There are two characters in the Christmas Story who are often overlooked, but who have a fascinating part to play in the story.
I’m talking about Simeon and Anna.
Two elderly people – devout Jews – who spent much of their time in the Temple, and who were both waiting for the Messiah to come.
The thing I find fascinating about Simeon and Anna is the way their waiting is described. Simeon was “eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel,” (Luke 2:25 NLT) while Anna “never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshipping God with fasting and prayer.” (Luke 2:37 NLT)
It’s remarkable: the Jews had been waiting for hundreds of years for their rescuer to come. For the last four hundred years, until the angel had appeared to Zechariah, there had been no indication that God had remembered his promise at all. No prophets speaking, no sign of God acting. Simeon and Anna had been waiting their whole lives, and yet they still maintained their eagerness and expectancy!
I don’t know about you but I find waiting hard, especially in situations where I have no idea how long the wait will be. My waiting can be eager and expectant for a while, but it too quickly turns to doubt and frustration if the wait is longer than I had hoped.
Simeon and Anna challenge me to wait well:
- To remember God’s promises – Simeon knew that God had promised that the Messiah would come, and he believed. He would have known from the Old Testament stories of people like Abraham and Moses that God is a faithful God who always keeps his promises – maybe not always in our timing, but he always does what he says he will do.
- To worship in the wait – It’s easy for the object of our wait to become our focus, but Anna and Simeon kept their focus on God and on worshipping him. It was an act of trust to praise God even in the midst of unfulfilled longings, but it helped them to wait well and prepared them for what was to come.
- To be open to what God is doing – I don’t know what Simeon and Anna’s expectations were. Did they think the Messiah would come as a baby or did they expect something more spectacular? Either way, they were ready. Simeon was led to the Temple that day by the Holy Spirit, and it seemed to be a case of instant recognition for both him and Anna. Somehow they knew that the tiny baby before them was not just an ordinary baby but the long-awaited Messiah, and their response was praise.
I don’t know what you’re waiting for this Christmas: fulfilment of a dream, resolution in a situation, that day when Jesus will return to put everything right…
But I do know that God is faithful to his promises.
What he says, he will do, and we can trust him in the wait.
“This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”
(Habakkuk 2:3 NLT)
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NLT)
Join me on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout Advent for more Christmas Hope! Links to all the posts in the series can be found here.