This evening, the 5th Sunday of Easter, as part of our worship outside of church during the Coronavirus, Evening Prayer is offered in the style of Iona. Taking the Gospel reading for Evening Prayer, Luke 2:25-32 we can imagine that this moment was Simeon’s farewell. The whole service can be seen here, but a transcript of the mediation is below
I am a firm believer that God accomplishes all things according to his will. Yet the one thing that we desire the most to be accomplished is that the Messiah will come to us. For surely when he comes this long-standing era of the law and the prophets will be complete and will pass away as a new era is ushered in, and we will rejoice!
Even so, my days are numbered, age wearies me, and my eyes are growing dim, so perhaps it is not to be in my lifetime. So many times, within these sacred walls have I felt the Spirit of the Lord surround me, like the swirls of incense burning on the altars, whispering promises in my ear that he is coming… he is coming. Still, like the smoke ascending to the heavens, it’s hard to grasp hold of the truth in that.
Nonetheless, there is a frisson of expectation in the air. It’s not my usual day to visit the temple, but I felt compelled to come this morning. As usual the crowds are jostling and pushing through the gateway, some voices loud and demanding, others chattering excitedly, unsure where they should be going. It is then that I spot them. The young couple standing still in amongst all of this bustle and hubbub. The woman holding a young baby in her arms, close to her body as if this disturbance would wrestle her precious child away from her; surely their first-born.
Before I could move, I realise that they have spotted me and are making their way deliberately in my direction. I stand still and wait. Without them saying a word the child is proffered to me and as I take this small bundle of humanity into my own arms I am struck by the firm unwavering gaze that connects us, young and old, wise and innocent, master and servant.
Then I feel something welling up inside of me and I hear my own voice bursting forth out of my mouth; people nearby stop at this unexpected exclamation,
‘Lord, today you have kept your promise to me that I would not die before the revelation of your chosen one, whom we have waited for with such longing. This child, born among us, comes unannounced to your temple, but his presence here shouts of salvation for us all, for Jew, for gentile, for the whole of humankind. Oh, that I have been blessed to know that through him you will bring glory to your chosen people, which leaves my heart and mind at ease so that there is nothing more needed in this your humble servant’s life but to wait for your calling me to the future eternal kingdom.’
This verbal outpouring suddenly leaves me feeling exhausted and I am conscious of the full weight of the child, who still lays in my arms; a heaviness of soul within the lightness of his frame. This glimpse of sorrow would be nothing compared to what I perceive he will achieve and so I pass him back to his mother. Let our salvation begin today!