Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
The old saints behold the young provincial family from Galilee, and in their beholding they believe. Simeon and Anna are worshippers at the Temple in Jerusalem who do not seem to have any formal title – they are not introduced to us as priests, but as prophets. Now, the prophets in the Bible are the voices which declare God’s word afresh in each generation through their words and actions. They particularly tend to call people to repent to hasten the Lord’s saving work amongst them.
Simeon and Anna have spent their lives prophesying the salvation of God’s people, teaching the law of God and declaring to the people who come to the temple that they should repent of their sins and turn to God, for the world in which they lived was not fair, was not right, and as prophets they felt it most keenly.
The story holds a certain sadness, that there are those who see the wonders of God for what they are and yet are not able to see them unfold. Yet Simeon and Anna have no sadness, only joy that this salvation for which they have prayed has finally appeared, and they got to see him in the flesh. Jesus hadn’t taught anything, he had not suffered death at the hands of sinners or been raised to life by the power of God, yet he is known as the salvation of Israel to those humble enough to listen to the Lord.
Each day the church is invited to enter into that joy by singing Simeon’s song, known as the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32) which is said daily at either Evening Prayer or Night Prayer as a celebration that no matter what happened that day, the day was an opportunity to see the saving hand of God at work.
nunc dimittis – now dismiss | servum tuum – your servant | Domine – Lord | secundum – according to | verbum tuum – your word | in pace – in peace
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.