I just love Christmastime. I love everything including the lights, the tree, the music, the parties, the decorations, the gifts, the food, and the anticipation. Yes, especially the anticipation.
Anticipation is the expectation of something, the hope that builds as we wait. For children, Christmas is all about the anticipation of the presents. As a parent, the anticipation is waiting to see the joy on my children’s faces as they unwrap their gifts.
Even more importantly, as I mature, I feel the anticipation of the Advent season. As we light the Advent candles at church, I feel the hope and excitement of the true meaning of Christmas. As I read Advent stories with my boys, I can relive what it must have felt like to wait for the long-awaited Messiah.
I have the opportunity to worship from this side of history, knowing that He has already come. However, Simeon and Anna (found in Luke 2), are famous for their holy and long-enduring faith as they waited for Him to arrive. I just love these two – their faith, their attitude, and their joy at being included in the story of Jesus’ arrival.
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. Luke 2: 25 NASB
Simeon received a special promise from the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. He believed it with all of his heart. Luke says that the Holy Spirit led him to the temple on the day that Mary and Joseph came to present their baby to the Lord. Simeon saw the infant Messiah with his eyes, and he immediately believed and rejoiced. Not only that, he blessed God and prophesied aloud to his parents and any onlookers present! He was filled with gratitude for the gifts that had been given: 1) his own promise fulfilled – seeing the Christ with his own eyes, and 2) the ultimate promise fulfilled – “the consolation of Israel” and “a light of revelation to the Gentiles.”
Then there’s Anna. She is a kind of grace note in the story of Christmas. She did not play a vital role in the story of Jesus’ birth. In fact, there is a mere paragraph about her in Luke. Still, she was included in this miraculous story for a reason.
Luke says that Anna was a prophetess. Honestly, we don’t often hear in Scripture about female prophets, so that in and of itself is remarkable. What’s even more extraordinary about Anna is that she was 84 years old, living, serving, fasting, and praying in the temple. We’re told that she “never left the temple.” Anna was at one point married for seven years and then widowed. In this passage, we find her as an old woman in the temple. Her life had been entirely dedicated to serving the Lord.
Unlike Simeon, we aren’t told that the Lord promised her anything. This is why her story is so amazing. She was just serving the Lord faithfully, using her gifts for His honor and glory. While doing this, she happened to overhear the exchange between Simeon and Jesus’ parents. She was therefore included in this incredible revelation. Upon seeing Jesus, she immediately began giving thanks to God and spoke of Him “to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). I can just picture her little wrinkled, joyful self, stopping to talk to anyone and everyone at the temple who had time to listen. I just hope I grow up to be such an 84 year old one day.
Don’t these two just make your heart flip over a little bit? They were two faithful people, advanced in years, serving the Lord. They were anticipating His arrival, and God blessed them. He wrote them into His story.
Pause: Find a nice, comfortable spot near your Christmas tree, and read the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke: 2:21-38. What stands out to you in this story?
Renew: What are you anticipating this Christmas season? If, instead of worship, you have been feeling stress, take time to pray and think about how you can shift your perspective or priorities so that you can take time to delight and hope in Jesus’ arrival.
Next: Look for one characteristic of Simeon or Anna that you admired in this passage. Was it their faith? Their excitement? Their endurance while waiting for a promise? Whatever it was that stood out to you, focus on emulating that characteristic in your own walk of faith.
May we take delight in the anticipation of Emmanuel.
Pause, Renew, Next!