Mothering Sunday…and more

8th March 2024

This Sunday is Mothering Sunday and, as you might expect, our scripture readings have a connection with motherhood. At St Mary’s we will be reading the story in Luke’s gospel about Mary and Joseph bringing the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. In the story they are told some amazing things about their son, and Mary is given an unsettling prediction about her own future.

Yet, as I was reflecting on this passage, I found myself drawn to two other figures that appear in this story. The first is the righteous and devout man Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the long-promised Messiah before his death. Luke doesn’t tell us how old Simeon was, but his prayer on seeing Jesus suggests that he expects to die soon, so I imagine he was an old man. The other figure is the elderly prophetess Anna who enthusiastically tells other Temple visitors about Jesus. She was in her eighty-fourth year. These two people had led lives of humble, faithful service to the Lord, and here, at last, they find their devotion rewarded with the privilege of encountering God’s Son.

Simeon and Anna remind me of some of the faithful older Christians I have known. When we were first married, Karen and I led a group that prayed for an overseas missionary organisation. Over several years we had the privilege of hosting some by-then-retired missionaries in our home. We enjoyed hearing the exciting stories of their lives, how the Lord had led and protected them through sometimes dangerous situations as they told people the good news about Jesus, and how the Lord had worked with them to change lives. But Simeon and Anna also remind me of other faithful Christians I have known. These Christians were not called overseas; they led more ordinary lives, worked in ordinary jobs, raised families. But their lives, nevertheless, had also been filled with love for the Lord.

Returning to Simeon and Anna, I am struck by how, despite their age, they still delighted in the things of God. I am struck by their hope in God’s promises and their joy as they saw his promises fulfilled. The thing that remains with me about the faithful older Christians I have known, both missionaries and ordinary folk, is that they too still delighted in our Lord. Like Simeon and Anna, they had lived lives filled with love for Jesus, and they too had experienced the joy and privilege of being in his presence. Their joy was infectious! It lit up their faces as they spoke about him. So, let us all be faithful and lavish in our love for the Lord. What a joy it is to know him!

Matthew Briggs