Simeon’s Christmas

The following is a fictional story written by Mike Anderson.

Long before the sun rose, Simeon was awake. He shifted on his mat in an endless quest for a position where some part of him did not ache. He knew it was hopeless, at his age, but the alternative was no sleep at all. So every night, in the darkness of his little home, he rolled over. Then he rolled back. Then he straightened his legs, and then he bent them again. And always, sooner or later, an insistent ache or a sharp pain would push him into full consciousness.

“O God of my fathers,” he would sigh, lying on his back and staring up into the blackness, “I am so weary. Let these old eyes soon rest upon your Chosen One, as you have promised me, so that I may at last rest with my forefathers.”

On this particular morning, though it was still dark, Simeon pushed himself to a sitting position, leaning on his thin, withered arms. His knees cracked and popped like dry tinder, his neck cried out in protest. In a voice still hoarse with sleep, he chanted a psalm.

“I trust in you, O Lord; I say ‘you are my God.’ My times are in your hands. Let your face shine upon your servant, and save me in your unfailing love.”

When he had finished, he sensed his body pulling him towards the mat again. Slowly he shook his head. “Now you are playing games with me, my body,” he said. “First you complain and lament until I can no longer sleep, and now you beg me to lie down again. We have been friends for so long, why must you turn against me now?”

In the silence, Simeon heard a sound like draperies fluttering in a strong breeze, and wondered what it was. Suddenly his head snapped up, causing a sharp pain to travel from his neck down his back. But he hardly noticed it, for he had heard this sound before—on two occasions in his long life. His body tensed and his eyes tried to focus in the darkness, as he waited expectantly. Something was about to happen.

“Simeon,” a voice said, quietly but clearly.

“Hear I am, Lord,” he answered. “Your servant listens.”

There was a pause. The sound of the moving draperies continued.

“It is today, Simeon,” the voice continued. “Today is the day you were promised.”

Simeon’s hands clutched each other, involuntarily. His eyes squeezed shut. A fearful joy filled his chest, as he struggled to speak.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. Blessed be your name, O my God. Lord…, what must I do?”

“This day, go to the temple courts, and you shall see your salvation.”

“How will I know who it is?”

“He will be revealed to you. Be as the prophet Samuel when he was sent to anoint David, and do not look at the outward appearance.”

The sound of the draperies ceased, and Simeon sat quiet and still for a few moments, wrapped in the silent darkness.

Then, “Today is the day!” he whispered in awe. And he began to get ready.

Just past daybreak he entered the temple courts and stood towards one side, leaning on his staff. His old eyes squinted and darted, trying to see everyone at once. He didn’t dare miss a soul. He paid particular attention to the priests, as they went about their duties—and especially to a tall, strong one, in the prime of his manhood. Simeon often watched him, and wondered if he was the one. The priest’s devotion to his duties was evident, and his sincerity clear.

A temple guard strode past, strong and authoritative, a sword at his side. People parted to let him through. He commanded respect; perhaps the people would rise up to follow a man like him against the Romans.

But there was no sign given. Nothing to indicate that either of them was God’s anointed. God had said he would be revealed—but how?

The quietly spoken words of God returned to Simeon. “Do not look at the outward appearance,” he whispered to himself. “Forgive me, Lord. Open my eyes.”

Now many people were coming and going, and Simeon could not see them all. He could only trust that God would do as he had promised. As he watched, a narrow beam of sunlight broke through the clouds and landed upon a plain-looking man in simple clothes. Simeon pulled himself upright on his staff and watched him.

The man was walking beside his young wife, who was carrying a small child. As the man stepped ahead to make a path through the jostling crowd, the beam of light struck the child, and as they continued walking, the light remained on the child!

And suddenly Simeon knew. His mouth fell open. His heart pounded. And his gnarled hands clenched his staff with a strength he didn’t know he possessed. A child! Of course! How God loved to confound expectations! If Gideon was an unlikely warrior; if a shepherd boy was an unlikely king; then a child could be an unlikely Messiah!

As the three started to pass by him, Simeon stepped forward and spoke.

“Young woman,” he said, “may I hold the child?”

She looked at him, startled, and Simeon guessed that she was perhaps 16 years old. She turned to her husband, and, after a moment’s pause, he nodded once.

“Of course, my father,” she said to Simeon with a smile. And she held out the child to him.

Simeon gave his staff to her husband, and gently took the baby in his now trembling arms. An indescribable joy washed over his body and his soul, and for a moment, looking into the tiny face just visible in the bundle of blankets, no words could find their way out of Simeon’s mouth.

His eyes filled with tears as he silently realized, my long wait has been rewarded. Then he lifted his face toward heaven, and in a trembling voice said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation…”

The father and mother stared in silent wonder as Simeon continued to praise God for their son. When he had finished, he turned to the mother and said, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And…,” here he paused, and his voice became softer and more tender. “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

At this the young woman’s eyes glistened with tears, and perhaps, Simeon thought, a touch of fear. But she nodded slowly, as though this was something she somehow already knew.

Simeon handed the tiny bundle back to her, and thanked her and her husband as he took his staff again. The three of them stood silently for a moment, then the husband spoke.

“Father,” he said, “may we see you to your home?”

Simeon smiled and shook his head. “Just be certain that you take good care of that child,” he said. “Someone is coming to take me home very soon now.”

About the author

Mike Anderson majored in Bible at the University of Northwestern and has been a student of the Bible his whole adult life. He is newly retired and still learning the ropes. At First Evangelical Free Church he teaches 5th grade Sunday school and co-leads a small group. He enjoys biking, reading, writing, and hiking. Mike and his wife Debbie make their home in Lake Elmo and enjoy having all of their kids and grandkids in the Twin Cities area.

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