“Lord, you now have set your servant free to go in peace as you have promised; for these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see: a Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.” -Luke 2:29-32 (The prayer of Simeon)
The prayer of Simeon is included in a couple of my prayer books that I have used for daily prayer. It has had a special place in my heart for a couple of years now, ever since my wife’s sister named her boy, “Simeon.” My nephew comes to mind each time I pray it, as does Anne’s sister. And I am grateful for them.
Simeon’s prayer is one of thanksgiving and praise to God who has kept his promise. In Luke’s gospel, we find Simeon’s brief story. He was a righteous and devout man, who was waiting with hope for God to help Israel. It is important to keep in mind the context, where the Jewish people were under Roman rule. They had chased after idols, and had thus fallen to other nations who ruled, sometimes viciously, over them. Simeon, we are told, lived a faithful life, focusing on God, and also lived in hope of God bringing salvation to his people who were oppressed. It must have looked hopeless at the time, but Simeon waited on God, nonetheless. Simeon grew old, but we are told that he was promised by God that he would not die before seeing the Messiah.
Can you imagine waiting and hoping as Simeon did? In some ways, Simeon is a perfect picture for Christ’s Church today. We are a part of a people who have chased after idols. Things run according to the rules of the kingdom of the world. We are under oppression by sin and death. Things can look bleak. Will you keep your eyes expectantly on God? Will you wait upon the Lord? Is God your true hope? We wait for the return or the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to set things right. Advent is a time to have the heart of Simeon.
Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation. There will be many other things happening in your life during this season. How will you foster your own waiting and hoping for the Lord to act? Simeon’s life story of waiting and hoping is what makes his little prayer in Luke’s gospel so beautiful. After a long wait, Simeon was finally able to see the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It does not say exactly how Simeon knew that baby Jesus was the Messiah, other than to say that he was ‘guided by the Spirit.’ This faithful man, Simeon, had spent so long in prayerful relationship with God, that when the Spirit moved, Simeon knew it. There must have been many other things happening in the Temple that day, or that week, but Simeon saw Jesus. Perhaps if we want to see Jesus in the midst of this busy season, we ought to follow Simeon’s example.