Advent: Preparation

December 31, 2016

annaintempleThe Gospels tell us about two people who were getting ready for the change that they were convinced was about to happen.

Simeon had led a life of devotion to family, tribe and church. As much as any ordinary citizen could, he lived the righteous life. Yet he suffered. He could never achieve the perfect righteousness. Only the Priests, who were full time engaged in the lifestyle, could be in perfect obedience to the hundreds of laws that regulated their behavior. It gnawed on him. His heart and mind became open to his grandparents’ sense that a change was going to happen soon – the weight of the befouled system was becoming too heavy to stand much longer.

Simeon had a dream one night. It was a new experience for him. It was compelling. It was as the voice of God. He felt relieved of a great burden. His suffering would end soon, and certainly before he died. It was not obedience to the law that mattered to him anymore, but welcoming the Hero who would soon appear. He spent most of his time in the Temple, praying with joy and complete expectation that the Spirit’s promise to him would soon be fulfilled.

Anna had had a very hard life. Widowed young and childless, she had been dependent on the charity of family and friends who gave her work to do. Now old and unable to work for her keep, her despair took her to the Temple everyday where all those able to make their offerings were also able to give her a small donation, a piece of bread or fish. She prayed most of the day, and experienced her hunger as a ritual fasting.

And so she survived. Her suffering opened her mind and heart to the message so many were whispering: change was in the wind. The long predicted Hero was to appear. She steeled herself to wait, every day becoming more convinced that God wanted her to be there to greet him.

Simeon and Anna, likely only two of many in the capitol, were actually preparing for the change by changing their behavior.


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