During Advent, we not only remember how Christ first came into the lives of the individuals at the nativity, but how he came into our own lives and continues to transform us. We invite you to read the gospel account of Simeon and Anna and reflect upon how they remained hopeful throughout years of waiting.
Full Scripture passage: Luke 2:22-40
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Simeon wanted a Messiah. His desire was shaped by the Old Testament prophets, and he immersed himself in his culture’s hope for a divine deliverer.
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
When Simeon met the infant Jesus, the encounter was the culmination of a life bathed in Scripture, shaped by a divine promise, and illuminated by the Holy Spirit. God found Simeon was made ready for this encounter by the Scriptural truth stored in his soul and imagination, and by his obvious habit of discerning and honoring supernatural direction.
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Anna is a representative of devout Israel. Her dedication, humility, and faithfulness position her to recognize and proclaim the Messiah when he appears in a form contrary to the culture’s expectations. Her role in the gospel accentuates the message that God’s work often transpires through the unnoticed, the humble, and the ordinary.
Simeon and Anna are both depicted as common individuals, devoid of earthly power or status. Yet, their very ordinariness becomes the medium through which the extraordinary nature of the divine message is conveyed. This juxtaposition highlights the underlying theme of the gospel: God’s Kingdom is not of this world and does not conform to worldly expectations of power and prestige.
The narrative also marks a shift from a God who intermittently intervenes in human affairs to a God who is continually present through His Spirit. These intimate, interactive relationships we see with Simeon and Anna redefine our concept of divinity and revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human. We are created in God’s image and redeemed by God’s activity in Christ. Human beings are invited, through the cross, to participate in the life of the Triune God. These Advent stories are precursors of those yet-to-come Paulinian truths.
This Christmas season, what are you hoping for? What Scripture-shaped desires populate your soul and imagination?
Pastor Greg Brown