He tries to keep up but stumbles, grabs a passing elbow to catch himself. The woman who belongs to the elbow jerks her head toward him, annoyed, shakes him off, and walks on.

Wobbly and panting, he raises a wrinkled hand to his face, then shuffles aside toward a bench. The crowd flows around him like a river around a rock.

He has been here for a long time now, in the way, good for nothing. Waiting.

Some days, he feels confident and sits near the gate, watching. Other days, he feels like a stupid old man, in the way and good for nothing, maybe just waiting to die.

But however he feels, he knows what he was told. He knows. And so, every day, he comes.

A centurion rides by, slowly, sneering down at the crowd, sword gleaming.

Watching him, the old man nods and admits to himself that it’s an odd story. So, a new king is coming to deliver us? Not if Rome hears about it. And this new king will be hated, pierced, and forsaken? This is what I am waiting for?

Well, that’s one side of the story – the side that mocks him on bad days. But there is another side.

He grew up reading with his father and when the old scrolls told of the coming Messiah, his heart burned in his chest. Unto this stubborn, trampled, seemingly God-forsaken nation, a son would be given: Immanuel – “God with us”.

And it has already happened, God’s spirit told him. “You will meet him before you die.”

“Lord knows,” the old man groans, “that can’t be long now.” His legs are still quivering and his head spinning, but he watches the gate, waiting for the Messiah to walk through.

“The government will be on his shoulders,” the scroll said, so they must be broad shoulders. “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God…” So, he will be a man of amazing power, perhaps tall and regal like Saul, or young and energetic like David. Or maybe wise and dignified like Moses. I don’t know how I will recognize him but, somehow, this man will reflect the magnificence of our God.

Suddenly, there is a stirring in Simeon’s spirit and the old burning in his chest, as if God were shouting at him to LOOK! But he has been looking and there is nothing to see. A couple of gangly teenagers laughing, one proud merchant in a bright robe, a poor couple in tattered clothes…

He did not understand, but something drew him from his seat. The poor man looked up as Simeon approached, and gave him a curious, respectful nod. The man’s wife, a mere girl, clutched a baby to her chest.

And, suddenly, Simeon did understand. Our Immanuel. Our God With Us. Not come to show the magnificence of your power, but the magnificence of your love. Your love for us, who are weak and tattered.

Tears streaming down his face, Simeon kneels before the child, trembling, until Joseph takes his hand to help him up. The girl watches, eyes wide, but places the child in his gnarled hands.

Burning with a joy he has never felt before, Simeon stares at the baby and the baby stares at him. “Now, Lord, you can let me die in peace for my old eyes have seen your salvation; Israel’s glory and the light of all mankind.”

This story is a dramatization of events recorded in Luke 2. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2%3A22-38)

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.
-Isaiah 7

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness,
a light has dawned…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
-Isaiah 9