What can we learn from senior saints in our midst? How many have lived just and devout lives? How many seniors have been faithful despite life’s suffering?
Purpose: Let’s learn from the examples of elderly saints.
Plan: Let’s look at the examples of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:22-40.
God commanded that we respect the elderly. An early command in Leviticus 19:32 says, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.” Proverbs 16:31 says, “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.” Job 12:12 says, “Wisdom is with aged men, And with length of days, understanding.” Isaiah 46:4 promises Israel, “Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
Luke 2:25-35 Simeon
In Luke 2:25-35 we read of aged Simeon “waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” He took Jesus into his arms and spoke the nunc dimittis (now you dismiss), which is used for evensong, and prophesied to Mary, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Simeon (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Simeon, a “just and devout” man greeted Jesus in the Temple. Joseph and Mary made an offering (Leviticus 12:6-8). A poor family like theirs offered a “pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons” as a purification rite. Simeon had received a premonition from the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. The Spirit guided him to the Christ child. Taking him up in his arms, he uttered prophetic words which have become part of our liturgy. Simeon is connected with untrustworthy legends. Was he the son of Hillel and the father of Gamaliel mentioned in Acts 5:34? Were his sons Charinus and Leucius?
Simeon (Orthodox Church in America)
Simeon is called the God-Receiver. Ancient historians tell us that the Egyptian pharaoh invited Simeon among seventy scholars to translate the Scriptures into Greek, “The Septuagint.” While translating Isaiah 7:14, he thought to translate “virgin” as “woman.” An angel stopped him saying, “You shall not die until you behold Christ the Lord born of a pure and spotless Virgin.” Simeon then lived in expectation of the Messiah. The Holy Spirit, led him to the Temple. “The Greek Anthology” quotes Mary referring to her Son as “older than ancient Adam.” The holy righteous Simeon the God-Receiver died at a great age. His remains were transferred to Constantinople in the sixth century.
Luke 2:36-40 Anna
In Luke 2:36-40 we read of aged Anna, “who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Having never remarried, she spent decades as a widow worshiping God daily in the Temple. She was a prophetess of the tribe of Asher, with its homeland around Galilee. So, even though some Jews denied that a prophet could come from Galilee (John 7:52) Anna did, and so did Jonah, Nahum, Hosea, Elijah and Elisha. While some attend a church and eventually quit, Anna did not. She endured in her zeal. She didn’t just believe Messiah would come, but “looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Anna (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Anna is an aged prophetess of the tribe of Asher. Legend says she had tutored Mary in the Temple. This highlights her special holy use by God in the life of Christ’s mother. Anna had lost her husband after only seven years of marriage and had never remarried. Anna devoted many decades of her life to the service of God in the Temple. She seems to be a model of the expectations of a widow in I Timothy 5:5-9. Because she spent so much of her time in the Temple, her presence at the presentation of Jesus is natural. She gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to others.
Anna (Orthodox Church in America)
Orthodox Christians celebrate the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord on February 2, remembering Simeon and Anna meeting the infant Christ. Perhaps having no children left tremendous sorrow in Anna’s heart. She turned her pain into prayer, making it an offering to God, pouring out her heart to the Lord (Psalm 51:17). Damaged by life we can feel hopeless. Pouring out her anguish to God she trusted that there was hope. We too can discover what Anna found (Psalm 25:14). Ancient prophets clung to God in fasting and prayer, and He told them His secrets as a friend. Anna shared the Word of the Lord with others.
Let’s learn from senior saints in our midst. Let’s follow the example of those who have lived just and devout lives. Let’s learn to be faithful despite life’s suffering.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Luke 2:22-40; Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31; Job 12:12; Isaiah 46:4; Leviticus 12:6-8; Isaiah 7:14; John 7:52; I Timothy 5:5-9; Psalm 51:17; Psalm 25:14