Anna and Simeon, stewards of vision “Stewards are both a ruler and servant; they exist to please their master.”
Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out. Ecclesiastes 7:8 The Message Most of the time, the hardest questions to answer are the ones that start ‘why’. Why do we exist? Why does suffering exist? Why do people enjoy reality TV so much? The ‘what’ questions are supposed to be the easy ones. But they aren’t always so. Try this one: what do prophets see? Prophets see with the sight of God. They see both the beginnings and the endings at the same time. Prophets see what and how God sees. They are stewards of vision, the ones who share that vision without adding to or diluting it. In Luke 2, two prophets, Anna and Simeon see both a beginning and an ending. Both had been promised by the Spirit that they would see the Messiah. Both are at the end of their long lives. Both have stayed true to the vision and both see the vision fulfilled: the redemption of mankind by a new-born baby. Luke takes up the story...
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout… 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 Messiah7 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.”
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Simeon’s words are confusing. How can a child be a sign? How can souls be pierced? How can hearts think? Within the paradox we are seeing as Simeon sees: a reversal of the expected order of things. He sees a world where servants lead, where the weak are the strong, where we must die in order to live. He sees redemption through a suffering Messiah and sees God in flesh; baby flesh. Anna, a prophetess sees next:
There was also a prophetess, Anna. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. There is significance in the words “at that very moment.” It tells us there was no time lag, no time for hearts to think. There was no time for any ‘why’ or ‘who’ questions. But what does she see? She sees the promise of this baby. She sees eternal redemption, new and full life. She gives thanks and speaks – she cannot stop speaking – because Redemption is here. She has stewarded her vision and delivers it in words of praise. These two older stewards were faithful until the end of their lives. Sometimes, stewards really do have to wait a while.
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