Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[ this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant[ in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
Lord Jesus Christ,
light of the nations and glory of Israel:
make your home among us,
and present us pure and holy
to your heavenly Father,
your God, and our God.
I knew a man who was a bank manager, everything was going well for him, but in his early 50s he was made redundant, he was devastated. Most banks nowadays are far different from the ones that I remember 40 years ago. Gone are the sixty-year-old bank managers that spent their lives in the bank. Now the bank is often run by someone in their 30s. My older brother was 53 when his company was restructuring and offered him a ‘package’ to take early retirement. By the time he was 55 he was somewhat bored. I told him to “Go and look at B & Q – they take pensioners.” He wasn’t amused.
We live in a society where older people are not always valued as they were. I remember churches which had ‘elders.’ I’m not just thinking of my impending retirement. Our society discharged untested hospital patients into care homes at the beginning of the epidemic. Is there a surprise that many, many people died of Covid in our care homes?
In our lesson we can see that it was two elderly people – Simeon and Anna who were the ones to recognise Jesus. They were the ones to recognise something special about that baby, to point to his future and what he meant for the world.
What I would say is that we all have something to contribute whatever our age, whatever our gender, whatever our ethnicity – whoever we are.