Ancient-Future Hope: Simeon and Anna
Most of the time we focus on Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus at the Advent season. This is a proper thing to do.
Yet along with this young couple with their miracle baby, two older folk make their way into the story: Simeon (we assume is old because he says he is ready "now" to die after he sees Jesus) and Anna the prophetess that Luke tells us is 84 years old.
Young and old are brought together around Jesus at the Temple. I think this is important to note because of the words of hope and challenge that Simeon utters and that Anna confirms.
For Simeon and Anna, hope is a person; an infant brought to the Temple out of obedience to long-standing Mosaic law. Simeon's and Anna's years of longing, waiting and hoping are brought to completion in Jesus. The "comfort of Israel" is here (see Isaiah 40:1-5) and the "redemption of Jerusalem" is at hand...in a baby.
Think about our world. Young people need the stedfast hope and faithfulness of older people who are surrendered to the Spirit and who, from long years of life in an oppressive world, still bless children and give words of wonder to their parents. They offer a wisdom not jaded by the Fall. Joseph and Mary were stunned by Simeon's prophetic words.
Simeon is a truth-teller. While he has seen the "salvation of the Lord" in the person of baby Jesus, Simeon reports that Jesus is not only the promised deliverer, but he will be a troubling divider. Many will trip and fall over Jesus; others will grasp him and rise. Jesus will be a "sign" spoken against. Love is offered to all, but not all accept the offer. Mary will experience not only perplexing marvel, but searing pain. There will be both a Savior and sword. Simeon speaks the whole truth about Jesus and salvation.
Mary. Joseph. Infant Jesus. Simeon. Anna. Generations brought together in the ancient/future Story of God.
May the older followers of Jesus have courage and grace to speak words of hope and truth; may the younger generation have humility and grace to hear. May all, with Spirit-fired love, serve the LORD's Christ and the world he came to deliver.