There is something positive to be said for the traditional understand of marriage and of faith. It was part and parcel of Jesus’ upbringing and formed the foundation of his ministry. The Gospel this week (Luke 2.22-40) highlights the faithfulness and that Joseph and Mary have to God and all that has been revealed and asked of each of them. The surprise of the Annunciation, the thoughts of quiet divorce, time with Elizabeth, seeing and hearing angels in dreams have all come together, not just because they needed to get to Bethlehem to do what needed to be done and to have the baby; important though that was. They were concerned about being faithful to God.
The couple were aware of what the Law demanded of them. They took Jesus to be circumcised on the eight day, and gave him the name that the angel had spoken to them. Then they waited in the area until the time came to go to the temple to offer thanksgiving and a sacrifice for cleansing of Mary after childbirth. Jesus was also presented as a firstborn son, who was meant to be a possession of God set aside for God, not just of the family. And so went the 40 days were over, they went to the temple to offer their sacrifice to God – two pigeons.
This is the frame around the two people we meet in the Gospel this week: Simeon and Anna. Simeon we are told is right in all his relationships and devout in his worship and prayers. And in addition to this, there is something unique about Simeon. The Holy Spirit rested upon him. This is important to know because it did not regularly or normally happen before Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit upon the Church. The Spirit was with and in Simeon for a purpose: to see and to know the Lord’s anointed when he saw him. Simeon was given the presence of the Spirit to identify for the world, the Saviour whom God has sent.
What a moment that must have been for Simeon to have Jesus in his arms, and to look into the face of his Saviour and know that things were going to be alright. In response to this happening, the Spirit enabled Simeon to give thanks and to bold declare that God is in this world actively working out the world’s salvation in full and clear view of all the nations. People in the temple heard this and came to see what was going on, and they too rejoiced.
One of them was more than like Anna, daughter of Phanuel, a prophetess. She had lived a short time a married life and then came to the Temple to live in an apartment within the Temple so that she could pray, prophesy and worship God - having done so for about 55-60 years. Having seen and heard what was going on, she spoke to all who were in the temple and would listen that she had seen the child King and that salvation and the redemption of the nation was at hand.
So where does this leave us? When did you last see Jesus? When did you last tell somebody else about him? When did you last act faithfully for God? Are you actively looking for him now? What God is looking for is not success or even glory for you – he is watching and waiting for each and for all of us to be faithful and do those things he has set for us to do. That means that the things you do, that you give thanks for the people you bless, matter to God because in the things you do, the words you speak, the things you take on, you bring the Spirit, you live the life of his Son and you convey the Father’s love, kindness and faithfulness for all people. So let us live our liturgy! Let us live the lives that God calls us to in Christ and let us be blessed and give thanks in Jesus’ name.