“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.” (Luke 2:29-32)
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple when he was eight days old, they were enacting a ritual that was done by every Jewish family with a new baby boy. Anna and Simeon spent so much of their long lives in the temple that they had probably seen hundreds of babies come and go, yet they recognized Jesus as the Messiah and praised God. All the other characters in the biblical Christmas stories (Joseph, Mary, the Magi, the shepherds) have signs and angels to point the way toward God’s presence on earth. Anna and Simeon just knew it through the stirring of their hearts by the Holy Spirit.
In this season of Epiphany (which means “revelation”), we celebrate the ways God is revealing himself to us, the ways Jesus reveals himself as the One who saves all of creation. In these days, I find myself wondering how to be more like Anna and Simeon – to be so aware of God’s working that I can notice the times God walks quietly in the door. Even when it’s something I’ve seen or done many times, I want to be open to the possibility that this time Jesus might show up. If he does, will I recognize him?
My prayer for us as we start this new year is that we will be open to the ways God travels through our days, to the ways Jesus stands in front of us in our everyday lives. I pray that in those moments we may praise God with Anna and say with Simeon, “My eyes have seen your salvation…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel.”
Grace and peace,
Chaplain Laura Stone