I love the story of Simeon and Anna! It is one of the best Christmas stories of all and is usually told from Luke's Gospel on the second Sunday of the Christmas season. Unfortunately, it's a story that gets overlooked because most people stop thinking about Christmas the minute the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 25. Whatever happened to the 12 days of Christmas leading up to Epiphany, the day we celebrate the coming of the Magi and the gifts they came to share with Jesus in Bethlehem?
I like Simeon and Anna because they express hope for the future. Even though they are both elderly, they each have a vision for a better tomorrow. They are both looking for the consolation of Israel and a day when God's Messiah will make things right again in the world. Many old people live in the past. They talk about the past. They idolize the past. Unfortunately, too many get stuck in the past.
Simeon and Anna were different. They dreamed God-sized dreams. They were open to the Spirit and willing to imagine a new kind of future. If they had Facebook back then and took the quick test called "Which 70s Rock Song Best Describes Your Life," it would have been for Simeon and Anna Fleetwood Mac's hit "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."
That was certainly their word of wisdom to Mary and Joseph. They said in essence, "God has plans for this little one you are holding in your arms. This one is special! This one is destined to turn the entire world on its head and bring in the reign of God's justice and love."
Simeon and Anna came up to Mary and Joseph as they brought baby Jesus to the temple for his naming ceremony. They were like many older people in our own lives who came along at just the right time. Can you recall a time when someone older shared a word of wisdom to help you put some perspective on your life? Did you have a Simeon or an Anna who helped you "start thinking about tomorrow" in a new way?
I love the Christmas story of Simeon and Anna! It's about hope! It's a reminder that Christmas is closely connected to our future and a promise that one day all things will be made right again. God's up to something in the world and we are called to be a part of God's Kingdom activity.
The year 2014 is over. There is no going back to the past. We can only move forward into 2015. So "don't stop thinking about tomorrow ... it will soon be here! Yesterday's gone ... yesterday's gone!"
Be like a Simeon or an Anna. Stay open to the Spirit! Look for Jesus, not only in the temple, but in the homes and back alleys of the towns and cities we live in. And then, help others better understand the true message of Christmas - that Jesus came to renew, restore and reconcile a broken, sinful and hurting world.
"Don't stop thinking about tomorrow!" You might be surprised what a difference that makes!
BY REV. BOB VAAGE
MILFORD FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH