Step by careful step, Luke shows us much in this passage. We see the poverty of a couple that offers only pigeons instead of the usual goat. In their determination to do what little they can, we see genuine piety. We see the devotion of an old man who has waited decades for what he finally sees this day. We witness joy as he cradles the child in his arms and his eloquent, aged voice sings praise. For just a moment, Luke points us to the parents. We spot amazement. Then the Gospel writer spreads a complex, climactic image. In a deeply loving act, Simeon offers a blessing, then immediately tells of great pain to come, both for the child and the mother.

As a young artist, Rembrandt painted “Simeon and Anna Recognize the Lord in Jesus.” To convey all he found in Luke’s account of Jesus’ presentation in the temple, Rembrandt focused on a single moment. Simeon has just spoken the harsh words. Mary stares at the child, eyes wide, face frozen. Simeon, crouched on one knee, bends toward her. His right hand reaches out in a gesture of comfort. Rembrandt’s painting perfectly portrays the literary scene Luke offers. Both artist and writer present us with a portrait of suffering and love.

This portrait foreshadows the suffering and love that course through all of Luke’s Gospel and reach fullest expression on the cross. And it evokes reflection. Where are we, like Simeon, invited to touch with love the suffering of another? Where is the whole family of faith now called to bless with active love others in their need? Where within our most hidden selves do we yearn for the presence of this child who embodies love and will know all our pain?

Loving One, where we suffer, help us to know you are with us. Wherever you beckon through the suffering of others, give us the daring to reach out with love. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 2:22-40

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Lectionary Week
December 21–27, 2020
Scripture Overview

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we do so with cries of praise to God. Isaiah delights and rejoices in God, who will bring reconciliation to all nations. Psalm 148 declares that all of creation praises the Lord, for creation knows who formed and sustains it. Paul explains to the Galatians that God sent Jesus to redeem us, and as a result we may now call out to God as God’s children. In the Gospel reading, Luke sets the story of Jesus within the history of the Israelites. Both Simeon and Anna are devout people, filled with the Holy Spirit. They have been praying for God to send the Redeemer, and God gives them insight to recognize him as Jesus. Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 61:10–62:3. How do you yearn for righteousness? How do the prophet’s words give you hope?
Read Psalm 148. Pause and consider the joy of God’s coming salvation for the whole world.
Read Galatians 4:4-7. Consider your identity as a child of God through Christ. What joy does this identity bring you?
Read Luke 2:22-40. How can you, like Anna, joyously proclaim the freedom and redemption Christ brings all of humanity?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.