Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Luke 2: 25 – 32
For centuries the Jews, as God’s ‘chosen people‘, had been waiting for God to send his Anointed One. Many of them believed that this person would be a soldier king, like David, and lead them, in battle, to gain their rightful position of dominance in the world. There were, however, a small number who took a different view. They were called the ‘Quiet in the Land’. They had no dreams of violence and of power. They believed in a life of prayer and watchfulness until God should come. Simeon was one of this number. Promised by the Spirit that he would not die until he had seen God’s Anointed One, he was in the Temple when Mary and Joseph brought their infant son there, in order to fulfil the requirements of the Law.
Taking the baby Jesus in his arms, Simeon praised God in words which have become one of the great prayers/songs of the Christian Church. It has its own special name the ‘Nunc Dimmitis’ and has been set to music by many famous composers. It is included in the daily evening services of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.
What an amazing end Simeon had to his life. The wonderful conclusion to a life of ‘waiting’ – his ambition fulfilled and a marvellous sense of being at peace.
Unlike Simeon, we are in the happy position of not having to wait. We have just been remembering again, at Christmas, that Jesus has come and is with us and active in the world today. What are we to do with that knowledge? We too, can have the prospect of ‘departing in peace’. But how are we to use the time we’ve got left?
Prayer – Nunc Dimmitis
“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation;
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.”
Action: On the threshold of a New Year, we can plan how are we to use the coming year to serve Christ?