Whenever I read Luke’s account of the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:25-38), I always picture a late afternoon in winter. Nature has slowed down. The day is dying. Things are slowing down in the temple, but Simeon and Anna—two faithful old people—are there.
Their long lives are drawing to a close. Maybe they are still physically robust, or maybe their bodies are trembly and their joints creaky; Luke doesn’t tell us. We know, though, that their spirits are strong and their faith is powerful. We know that their priorities are clear: They are looking forward in hope, not backward in bitterness and despair.
Luke’s story is a grandparent story. This is a story of the coming together of the great thresholds—birth and approaching death, beginnings and endings. Endings that are, in truth, new beginnings. Simeon and Anna—do they know each other? Maybe it’s a first time at the temple for Simeon, righteous and devout. Luke tells us that he has been waiting for a bittersweet message: looking forward to the consolation of Israel and the promise that he will not die until he has seen the Lord’s messiah. Even as he yearns for the good news, he knows that it presages the end of his earthly life. So now he has come in response to the message.