Simeon: waiting in hope

Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation. In that sense, Simeon (Luke 2) could almost be a patron saint for Advent. He knew what it was to wait.

We know almost nothing by way of details about his life. We do know that he was a godly, upright man and that his life was blessed by an unusual influence of the Holy Spirit. Luke’s comment about him was that “the Holy Spirit was upon him.” The same Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen promised anointed King.

But when would this happen? Like others who milled around the temple area, Simeon was waiting for the realisation of a hope that was born in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. Simeon thought of “the consolation of Israel”, perhaps reflecting on the promises that had come through Isaiah in his magnificent 40th chapter; others thought of the redemption of Jerusalem.

It had been a long time since the prophets had spoken, but Simeon knew that the time was near. As he grew older, realising increasingly that his days were numbered, he knew that it would not be much longer until Christ would appear.

So it was that one day the Spirit prompted him to go into the temple, just at the time when a young couple were there for the rituals required on the birth of a son. The events of the previous months had turned their world upside down: a message from Gabriel, a mysterious pregnancy, a baby boy, an angelic choir dispatching shepherds to the manger to see “a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.”

Led by the Spirit, Simeon came in. He took their six week old son in his arms. He knew that this was the One. The time had come. The waiting was over. God had kept his promise.

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