SIMEON, ANNA, AND BABY JESUS
Bible Background: Luke 1 & 2 are full of interesting, faithful ‘couples’, who become part of God’s amazing promises. Each of these larger scenes, contains a song/psalm of praise to God. Each of these songs has long been part of the liturgy of the Christian Church, Zechariah’s “Benedictus”; Mary’s “Magnificat”; and Simeon’s “Nunc Dimittis”. Luke gives us a model for ‘singing’ our faith!
Digging Deeper: 1. Going to the Temple, for Mary’s ‘purification’ after childbirth (33rd day) shows that Joseph and Mary practice their faith. The rite required a sacrificial offering, and a family of modest means could offer two turtle doves. What does this reveal about Jesus’ parents? About their lifestyle?
2. One faithful act unveils another! In the temple, we meet old Simeon, and then Anna. Three times Luke points out that the Holy Spirit is working in Simeon’s life. He takes the baby Jesus in his arms and blesses God. His ‘song’ has been the closing part of the Holy Communion liturgy for centuries. What would you like to say to God as you approach the end of a full life? How would you sing God’s praises?
3. Simeon’s song mentions “Gentiles” (i.e. non-Jews). Luke’s Gospel is largely written for non-Jews. He is determined to show that Jesus, the Messiah, is Good News for all people. Our sister church in Milwaukee took the name “All Peoples’ Church”. They strive to welcome all. What makes that such a good name for a church? In a time when some are anxious and fearful of Muslims, how does Luke’s inclusiveness encourage us to look upon people of other faiths or no faith?
4. Anna is identified as a “prophet”. She is 84, and she is at the temple “night and day”. Do you suppose she lives there? Might she be homeless? (As a widow, she would be among the very poor!) How does Anna’s testimony validate the role of women in ministry? How does she serve as an example for each and every one of us to witness to our faith in God?
5. Lest we overlook Mary’s role in this story (she’s the reason they had to come to the Temple!), she’s on the receiving end of an odd blessing “a sword shall pierce your own soul too.” What might the mother of Jesus be thinking? Feeling? Hoping? Fearing? Can we remember to pray constantly for parents of young children?
Read all of Luke 2 this week. Next Sunday we’ll get a glimpse of the Wise Men.