I think one of the amazing things about Scripture is that it doesn’t seem to matter how often one hears or reads certain passages there always appears to be something new that can be learned from them.
So it was with me over the recent Christmas period. The account of the birth of Jesus, as found in Luke 2, is so familiar. No doubt, like many others, I could recite the verses by heart. But traditionally it seems that we stop reading this passage where the shepherds return to their sheep, having found that what the angels had told them was true (verse 20).
However, this year my attention was taken to the verses that follow and which really cover the concluding part of the account of the Lord’s birth, with His dedication in the temple. Being of a certain age, I was both challenged and encouraged by reading once again of the significant part played in this event by two faithful, aged servants of God.
Simeon, we are told, was a righteous and devout man, who was eagerly waiting for the Messiah. The Holy Spirit came upon him and revealed that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah (verse 26). On the very day that Mary and Joseph went to the Temple to present baby Jesus to God, the Holy Spirit led Simeon there. He was able to prophesy over the baby, testifying who the baby was and what He would become.
Anna, a prophetess, was also there in the Temple, as that’s where she spent all her time as an eighty-four-year-old widow, worshipping God with fasting and prayer (verse 37). She came to where Simeon was talking to Mary and Joseph and began praising God and testifying to others about who the child was.
As I reflected afresh on these verses, it became clear once again to me that we all have a role to play in the Kingdom of God, irrespective of age, gender, or status. Anna and Simeon had a close relationship with God. By His Spirit, God led them to be in the right place at the right time and enabled them to exercise their gifting of discernment, prophecy, worship and witnessing.
I believe there is a lesson here for all of us, no matter what our age. If we develop a close intimacy with God, it will be our motivation to obediently serve Him, not only now, but when we are old, as the Holy Spirit helps us.
My dear mother-in-law, as she drew towards the end of her life, often quoted the verse above from Psalm 92 and expressed a concern for being able to bear fruit in old age. May that be the prayerful desire for all of us, as we cling to the promise of God for those who our faithful to Him. ‘I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you’ (Isaiah 46:4).
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