‘Age No Concern!’

Dear Friends,

Friday marked the feast of Candlemas in many Christian traditions, when the Church remembers Jesus’ presentation at the temple in Jerusalem. It fulfilled the demands of Jewish law that required a mother to bring the priest a lamb and a dove for a burnt offering 40 days after the birth of a son. It’s a custom that we are not very familiar with!

Luke’s account of Mary’s presentation of Jesus is interesting in two respects.

Firstly, instead of focusing on the act of purification conducted by the priest, Luke highlights the encounter between two ageing individuals, Simeon and Anna, and the infant Jesus.

Simeon was old enough for the sight of Jesus to be the very last thing on his bucket list. God had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen God’s Messiah. As far as Simeon was concerned, this baby, Jesus, was the one he had been waiting for; he was now ready to die in peace – his life’s mission had been accomplished!

Anna was at least 84, with a prophetic ministry confined to the temple grounds. God had also given her special insights about who Jesus was. Like Simeon, she recognised that Jesus was the rescuer promised by God to Israel.

Two elderly people. At first sight, there seems to be nothing special about them. Luke simply describes Simeon as ‘a man in Jerusalem’. But as far as God was concerned, they were important enough for Luke to include them by name in his account, and for their story to take up more space than that of the shepherds earlier in the chapter.

The second interesting aspect of Luke’s account? The fact that he describes Mary and Joseph bringing an offering of ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons’, rather than the normal offering of a lamb and a dove. It meant that Mary and Joseph were not at all wealthy.

In God’s eyes, Mary and Joseph’s poverty, and Simeon and Anna’s age were of no concern to him – they weren’t a barrier at all to their involvement in the story of Jesus’ birth. I wonder how often we dismiss either ourselves or others as being of no value for any reason? Instead, we are each so precious to Jesus that he was willing to give his life for us, and invites us to take our place in his rescue mission to the world.

With our love and prayers
Matthew and Pauline