Monday, December 22, 2008

Thoughts on Simeon and Anna

I admit it, I'm excited to preach about Simeon and Anna. For some reason, I just really like these guys. They have quite a lot of depth for just 18 verses. I'm thinking of naming my sermon "Of widows, virgins, and barren ones," and talk about the prominent roles that Anna, Mary, and Elizabeth have in Luke as being the ones to recognize the Messiah, even though they were considered next to nothing by their culture and society. We'll see. That's where I am today. I have all week to change my mind. :)
I might even get around to posting it. I haven't posted a sermon in quite a while. Laziness is some of it, shyness is also a part. I usually get good reviews, but I'm never happy enough with them to actually post them where, (gulp), just anybody could read them. (That's actually really ridiculous of me since I'm pretty sure only about 8 people ever come here to read anything--and I know you all love me!)
I know quite a few people right now who are either pregnant or have just recently given birth, several for the first time. I have to admit that it's the first time mothers (and fathers too) that are so much fun to watch. At least one couple I know has struggled with infertility for many years and only just a couple weeks ago had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Another couple I know is having fraternal twins without the help of any fertility treatments whatsoever. No matter what, becoming a parent for the first time is rather overwhelming.
Babies bring something with them that we seem to lack in our daily lives--an expectancy of great things to come. We lay our hopes and dreams on them, what we hope they will turn out to be, what sorts of traits will they inherit, what jobs they will get when they are grown, etc. Even most parents I know who intentionally try not to put undue pressure on their children have some sorts of expectations for them, such as getting a good education, taking some sort of extracurricular classes, whether it's dance, gymnastics, martial arts, or music lessons, or even just going to church regularly. With young children, we make those decisions for them, molding them, even ever so slightly, to our own expectations for them.
I wonder just what expectations Mary had for Jesus when she took him to be presented in the temple. Even then, I don't think she could have known what sort of Messiah he could be. Her Jewish heritage expected a warrior Messiah, one who would overthrow the oppressor with a fiery sword and angry redemption. Yet as she carries her newborn in her arms, can she truly envision him as such? I wonder.
And Mary isn't the only one with expectations for him, after all. What do Simeon and Anna expect from him? What do they see his role as Messiah to be? What about his father? His grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the rest of the Israelites? Sure, we expect great things of our children, but Messianic leadership? That's a tall order for a tiny baby.
What do we expect from a Messiah, even now? What expectations do we place on the one who comes to us in such unexpected ways?

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