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Fifth Business

Simeon and Anna have been called what folks familiar with plays and drama call, ‘fifth business”.  They are not the tar of the show or the lead or even major players, but they appear at a place and time that make the drama move forward.  Simeon’s song, the Nunc Dimittis, has been apart of our worship since at least the 4th century.  Simeon means “God has heard”.  Waiting for the consolation of Israel and filled with Holy Spirit He preaches.

According to Luther –

The patriarch Simeon steps up, even though by virtue of age he can scarcely see his way, and with penetrating clarity of discernment recognizes and praises this child as the Savior and Light of the World. All emperors, kings, and sovereigns are mere darkness, but this child is the Light of the World. All the world is subjugated under death and damnation, but through this child the world will obtain salvation. This child, in short, is the one whom the prophets foretold. The words of the Evangelist are very apt, but Simeon, no doubt, has fine-etched them. It was a sermon, says the Evangelist, that caused the child’s father and mother to marvel about the child. The thought that he was to be a light unto the Gentiles was not understood clearly from the words of the angels until Simeon spoke. The other people who were in the temple likely despised Simeon’s speech as the words of a fool, or they judged him to be drunk, or eccentric by virtue of his age, a foolish old man. How could this little child be the Savior and Light of the World when he had nothing but ordinary swaddling clothes and his mother had scarcely a farthing in her purse. No doubt the rest of the people would have disdained the words of aged Simeon as though he were merely beating the wind. But Mary and Joseph marveled at what was said of the child.

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