Where are Simeon and Anna?

February 15th, 2012

The Lectionary Gospel lesson from Luke 2 on New Year’s Day provided an opportunity to hear the importance of the stories of Simeon and Anna for the church today.  These two elders of the faith recognized immediately God’s presence with them through the Baby Jesus.  Simeon prayed aloud to thank God for the blessing of seeing the Messiah before he died.  Anna told everyone around her about the child who had come to save Jerusalem.  What’s amazing to me is that these were the lay folks of their day!  Anna was called a prophet, but she had no clergy credentials!  Simeon was a righteous man, and the Holy Spirit was upon him, but he seems to have no ties to a rabbinical class.  So, here we have two regular people who see God’s work among them and are willing to share it with others!

In the process of interviewing churches who have experienced change and are now reaping (or beginning to reap) the benefits of that change—reaching new people, younger people, more diverse people—I began to notice an interesting trend. In nearly every story about how their congregation experienced change, there was either an older person (70+)  who participated in the interview, or mention of an older person, who was primarily responsible for helping their generation understand the need for change—especially as it related to reaching younger people with the Gospel message.  The image that came to me was how these people functioned like the bumper pads on a bowling alley. They took some of the hits, but kept the ball moving toward the goal.

So, where are the Simeons and Annas in your congregation?  Wise, mature, followers of Jesus who can see the possibilities for future generations – not just the pain of change for their own generation.  Where are the lay folks who can partner with their clergy to move the ball toward the goal—making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?  Find them, encourage them, and use them to be helpful change agents so that more people can recognize Jesus in this world!

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