Sunday, February 02, 2020

Simeon and Anna

Today the church remembers Simeon and Anna, the two faithful elders who were "waiting for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2.22-39). I love these two, the priest and the prophet, faithful for so many years to the Spirit's promise, to a quiet message delivered to the listening ears of their own spirits long ago, patient, still open in prayer to that wordless voice in the quiet of the temple, waiting.

Neither Simeon nor Anna is known for any great deeds, for prominent service or any other notable achievement, but for waiting, and for these few words at the close of their lives, when their faithfulness in patience met Mary's and Joseph's faithfulness in bringing Jesus to the temple at the time appointed (Leviticus 12)

I have been so impatient in my life for results, for recognition, for achievement, when all that may have been needed is waiting, and listening. It is hard to wait, hard to trust - not so much the Spirit as - one's own hearing. What if I were wrong? What if I misheard, if I were merely a victim of wishful thinking?
Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the Word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us. That is why the Book of God is always in the midst of those who gather. We read the Word so that the Word can become flesh and have a whole new life in us.

Henri Nouwen, Finding My Way Home
The psalmist, whose words must have been familiar to both Simeon and Anna, seems to sum it up in Psalm 119.105, 123-125 "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path... My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise. Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees. I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes." It sounds so simple, as in fact it is; and yet I think it is the key to Simeon's and Anna's patience, and the answer to my own doubts.

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