The Presentation of Simeon and Anna – patience and perseverance
St Luke 2:22-40
Building pupil’s understanding of the historical background to the story is an important part of developing religious and spiritual literacy. Please see Historical background to the Bible Story available as a download
This scene based on the Bible story is set in the Temple in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph are shown to be practising Jews, observing two ancient religious customs. Child-birth was regarded as making a woman unclean for forty days after the birth of a baby boy and Mary is there to be purified through ritual washing. Jesus, being the first-born male, is presented to the Lord.
Two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, appear, greet the Holy Family and recognise the infant Jesus as God`s Messiah, the Christ. It was a popular idea that the Messiah would come and liberate the people from Roman rule and re-establish the glories of King David`s reign. But there were others, like Simeon and Anna, known as the quiet of the land, who believed the Messiah would be a man of peace. Quietly, prayerfully and patiently they await his coming. Their patience has been rewarded.
Introducing pupils to the theological basis to the story as well as comparing different versions of the story using different translations of the Christian Bible grows confidence in exploring Christian teaching, beliefs and practices deepens understanding. Please click on the scripture reference under Patience on the menu bar.
Theology background to ‘The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple’
This is Luke`s epiphany story (Epiphany meaning God’s manifestation). Matthew tells us about the wise men, Gentiles, strangers coming from another country and acknowledging the divinity of Jesus. Simeon recognises Jesus as the Messiah, brining light to the world.
This has been called a bitter-sweet occasion. Mary and Joseph are the happy parents of a baby and thankful for his safe arrival. But Simeon turns to Mary and refers to a sword piecing her heart, anticipating her sharing the sufferings of Jesus at the end of his life.
The background to the people that were there:
• Mary – A Galilean girl who responded to the call of God to be the mother of Jesus. Patiently in the background throughout Christ`s working life and ministry, she must have wondered where it was all leading too. Her patience was finally rewarded when she was part of the Easter community of the church.
• Joseph – He is quietly in the background in the Gospels, trusting God.
• Anna – An elderly woman waiting with prayer and fasting for God`s decisive action which she identified with the coming of Jesus.
• Simeon –An old man waiting trustfully that he would live to see the coming of the Christ. His hopes are fulfilled when he takes the infant Jesus in his arms