The day arrived just like so many others,
and I’m an old woman, so that’s been more than a few.
The sun rose, and with it, I answered the call to worship, another pattern I’ve learned over time that has made my life so full. My feet carried me towards the Temple, a journey they were quite used to traversing. My heart echoed the words of King David,
“I have asked one thing of the Lord; it is what I desire;
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.”
I hadn’t planned on living out the words of King David to their literal extent, but my life had taken unexpected turns I never saw coming, and worshipping at His temple was His grace to me. The Temple rose before me and it hummed with life. Men, women, and children ascended the steps. The sound of conversations and bleating sheep filled the air. The beauty of the Temple caused me to pause and tears swarmed my eyes.
How had I, Anna, been so privileged to live out King David’s words?
To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life?
I brushed away the few tears that escaped. My wrinkles welcomed them and sheltered their salty moisture. I heard my name and turned to see a fellow friend wave at me as she approached the entrance. While her husband had only recently died, a deep friendship with her had quickly formed. My husband had passed away after only seven years of marriage. He had been a loving man, and I missed him dearly. Even while married, I could not imagine what my life would have been like without the ability to spend my days at the Temple serving the Lord.
I waved energetically in return. As I began moving in her direction, I saw Simeon out of the corner of my eye. He stood in the courtyard with a small family: father, mother, and young son. Simeon spent much time in the Temple as well and hadn’t kept quiet regarding the promise he carried, such a bold promise. Simeon believed God had told him he would not see death before seeing the Messiah. After 400 years of silence from Yahweh and His prophets, bold seemed an understatement, yet, I somehow sensed the promise was true and secretly hoped the Messiah might arrive in my lifetime.
However, each passing day increased the odds of that reality not coming to pass. It had been 84 years since I last saw my husband, and while the Lord’s timing is always perfect, I had come to terms with the fact that He remained faithful even if I never saw the Messiah walk the earth. My greatest joy would be living out the honor of gazing on the beauty of the Lord each day.
I paused my movement towards my widow friend and fully turned to look at Simeon and the family. Something about Simeon’s countenance drew me.
This interaction was different.
This family fully engaged his attention.
I drew closer, and with each step, I increased my pace.
Simeon’s face radiated joy and the need to know what he was saying created an unexpected, other-worldly urgency. My heart began to pound as my feet raced forward.
I came within hearing distance just as Simeon picked up the child and said,
“Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised.
For my eyes have seen your salvation.
You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to your people Israel.”
I glanced from Simeon and the young child to the parents and back again.
Had I just heard Simeon’s words correctly?
Had he truly just declared the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to him?
As I stood there working to comprehend all that was unfolding before me, Simeon turned to the mother and continued, “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed – and a sword will pierce your own soul – that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Awareness washed over me as the Spirit Himself flooded my being, and I recognized the holiness of the moment. There, in front of me, held in the arms of Simeon, rested my Messiah, MY Messiah. The Christ had come, not as I expected, but He had come.
Tears streamed from my eyes, but I gave no effort to wipe them away. Let those around me see them for they represented joy and promises fulfilled.
After standing there for several moments, I finally found my tongue. Turning to the person nearest me, I found myself telling them of the reality standing before us.
“Christ has come!”
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