Dr Kate Harrison Brennan launches our Advent series with a reflection on Christ interrupting our world in a beautiful, political and dramatic way.
Bree Mills is the Associate Pastor at Glen Waverley Anglican Church, seeking to reconnect the church with the local community.
Today's reading is Luke 2:25-40
As we near the end of the Advent season I find myself torn between the busyness of different Christmas parties, church responsibilities and family dramas. With a young family, life doesn’t stand still for very long. If you can manage to drink your tea while it’s still hot, and you don’t forget to pick up or drop off a child, it’s been a good day. As a pastor, Christmas is a time of events, services, and planning for the year ahead, before that beautiful summer holiday, that we can all sense in the not too distant future, finally arrives. I look forward to those peaceful moments on the beach, sometimes forgetting to be where God has called me to today.
As I read today's passage, I am reminded of the different postures of Simeon and Anna.
Simeon and Anna were two faithful people who were present where God called them to be and persevered in hope. Simeon was a righteous Jewish man, who trusted the promise of the Lord, that he would see the Messiah with his own eyes. Anna was a prophetess and a woman of faith, who after losing her husband devoted herself to worship the Lord.
Anna could have gone and been remarried, that would have been the cultural norm, but she followed God’s call on her life and spent her days in worship and prayer at the temple. Simeon could have doubted what God said, and given up waiting to see the Messiah, but he didn’t. She didn’t. They persevered. They trusted what God had placed on their hearts, and even though they were both old and had waited for so long, they were still waiting, ready, seeking to be responsive to God’s Spirit. God was faithful to them, and God is faithful to us.
Together, as they prophesy over Jesus, there is unexpected beauty in this moment. They paint a beautiful picture of God, even then, mending the brokenness of this world. In a world where men and women were routinely separated, God uses both Simeon and Anna together. In a world where the was such segregation between Jew and Gentile, God speaks of a ‘light for the Gentiles, and glory for all Israel’. There is hope here. As Mary and Joseph go about the routine Jewish practices for a firstborn, God speaks powerfully.
As I balance the life of a mum and a pastor through this Advent season, I’m reminded to be present and to look again at what God might be speaking even in the busyness of the season. To wait faithfully on him, as I see Anna and Simeon doing, and to be led by His Spirit in whatever he is calling me into. God is at work. He calls me and challenges me to be present, persevering in hope, and participating in His mission as he leads. Even amongst the everyday tasks that we are called to, may we look for what God might be speaking, hold onto the hope of His Kingdom breaking through, and follow where he calls us to go.
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Daily Reading Luke 2:25-40
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Return to Nazareth
39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.