We have a monthly Lunch Club where a number of guests at older that Simeon and Anna.
Can anyone tell me how old Anna was?
But the lunch club is not just attended by older people but also by young people. Students from Holland Park Community school come too. They eat with the older generation and also serve at table.
The older people are full of admiration for the young people, and hear from them what their hopes are for when they leave school and their lives. The older people see something special in the young people. And the young people learn about some of the amazing experiences the older people have had.
What is the link between the Lunch club and the story of Simeon and Anna meeting of Jesus?
Both are about older people admiring something in a young person.
Simeon and Anna see something very special in the baby Jesus, a light to reveal God to the nations (Gentiles): that’s what Simeon saw when he looked down into the face of the tiny child Jesus, one of hundreds of children brought to the temple by their parents.
Now thinking about the last few weeks at church – has there been any other events in our worship that we have celebrated that foretell of Jesus being a “light to the nations?”
The visit of the Magi. We don’t know what the Magi said when they came to Bethlehem.
But in the case of Simeon, we learn from Luke what Simeon actually said.
We‘re going to repeat Simeon’s words later in the service. It’s called the Nunc Dimittis or the Song of Simeon “Now you dismiss.”
Simeon knew of the promise of God that he would send a new king who would rule over all people. Simeon had been longing for this moment all his life. Now he knew it was going to happen –so he could die a happy man. Jesu had come and would rule. It would not be easy at first but it would happen.
Jesus, said Simeon, would be a Light to the nations – who banishes darkness from the world.
So why have we asked you to bring a candle today which we will light at the end of the service.
[ask children for answers]
There are many reasons to light candles when we gather to worship together. One of them is to remind us that Jesus, as Simeon recognises, is the light of the world.
Jesus himself said “”I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
And in the famous prologue of St. John’s Gospel, John writes “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”
The small flame of a candle reminds us of the great light of God’s love for us, made incarnate in Christ.
Quite a lot of grown-ups when they pray on their own, light a candle.
Because it reminds us of God’s great love for us and that is why we especially use candles when we remember Simeon and Jesus being presented at the Temple. Which we call Candlemas.
And at the end of this service we will gather and light our Baptismal Candles or candles, to remind ourselves that there is light in us too. And even when we blow the candles out, through the Holy Spirit, the light of Christ stays within us.
We are given a Candle at our Baptism and the Priest who baptised us said:
“shine as a light in the world to the glory of God”
How might we lighten people’s lives? And celebrate all the Simeon and Anna have done for us by directing us towards this Light?
I have a practical suggestion. Inspired by the bond of the generations at our Lunch Club, the older people and the pupils of our Community School here’s something you might like to do this week.
If you are older think of a young person you love or are in close touch with. If you are young, think of an old person. Then do something we don’t do so much of today in this age of the e-mail. Send them a card or short note along the lines of
“I wanted to let you know that at church on Sunday we celebrated Candlemas when the baby Jesus was taken to the Temple 40 days after his birth. He met two old people Simeon and Anna who realised he was very special, the king who would rule over people as promised by God, The light to reveal God to the nations. We lit candles in church to celebrate that everything Simeon and Anna said has come true, and however dark things become, the light still shines.”
May be you would like to send me an e-mail when you have done this.