advent lettering

O Come All Ye Faithful

Simeon and Anna

Today's Reading

Luke 2:21-40

Christian artist Ron DiCianni has painted numerous, moving scenes from Scriptures, including the Creation of Man, the Prodigal Son, and the Resurrection. For me, the most moving portrait is Simeon’s Moment. The scene is simple enough. All you see is an old man holding the small baby Jesus. There is no temple scene. Mary and Joseph aren’t there. And you barely see Jesus’ face. Overplayed on the image is a map of the world, which brings so much significance to the scene, as the Savior of all mankind has appeared. But what moves me so much is a single tear.

As you look at Simeon’s face, you see a man whose joy is uncontainable. He is holding His Savior and shouting for joy, so much so that a tear is streaming from his eye. Looking at the painting, you can’t help but be moved to tears as well.

When I read this scene in Luke, I think of this face.

It had been 40 days since the birth of Jesus. Surely some news from the Shepherds had spread, but it doesn’t appear that anything is too out of the ordinary. Mary and Joseph obeyed the Law. They circumcised their son and named Him Jesus, and then they set out to the temple in order to consecrate their firstborn male to God by offering a sacrifice. All very customary.

Unbeknownst to these young parents, God had been working in the life of two of His servants, Simeon and Anna. Luke does not give many details about these two faithful saints. Simeon is called a righteous and devout man, who had been promised by the Lord that he would see the Messiah before he died. Anna was a long suffering widow, a prophetess who stayed in the temple constantly praising God.

I love how Luke describes the scene. Simeon was likely not planning to go to the temple that day (or maybe that is me reading too much into the text). But the Spirit “moves” him to visit. I am sure that he went on a regular basis to the temple, but something special compelled him for this visit. As Luke was researching the history of this encounter to write his Gospel, you can imagine finding out that little nugget, and he thought, “I have to include this!”

The Spirit says to Simeon, “Simeon, I have a surprise for you. Head to the temple and see.” So he did. And what did he find? As soon as Mary and Joseph headed into the temple, Simeon grabbed up the baby and began to praise God.

He cried, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Lk. 2:29-32).

Simeon's Moment by Ron DiCianni
Photo Courtesy of Tapestry Productions

Can you see his utter joy? Can you see the tears streaming from his face as the promise he had long been given finally came true? He had been able to see the salvation of the Lord.

Simeon actually gives them a prophecy that is a little disturbing…how Jesus would cause the rising and the fall of many in Israel and how a sword would pierce Mary’s soul too. Simeon had fulfilled his calling. He had endured.

But it doesn’t end there. Anna comes along and also holds this precious child. With joy that must have matched Simeon's, she proclaimed how the child would bring about the redemption of Jerusalem.

Anna and Simeon. Two saints who had been given a vision, and they saw the vision come true. Yet, can you imagine their journey to see the vision? It wasn’t that the Lord gave them a sign and the next day it came true.

Anna thought her life was set as a young wife, and then seven years into marriage, she was a widow, with nobody deciding to marry her. She could have given up, thrown in the towel, cursed God and died. But she didn’t. She endured to see something greater, believing that God was a good God to be praised regardless of the circumstances.

And Simeon. He had been told by God that he would see the Messiah. How many days do you think that he woke up hoping to see this come true, only to go to bed with nothing? Yet he wasn’t disappointed. He carried on, clinging to the promise of God.

They both endured, and so should you and I. The Advent season reminds us that we can wait with great anticipation for the promises of God, because unlike other promises, God actually will come through. God didn’t abandon these saints, and He won’t abandon us.

How do we know that? Because He sent us Christ, the greatest promise ever given. Hold fast to the promises of Christ and look forward with unrestrained anticipation to the celebration of the gift of God.

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