Summary: Ancient coffin dodgers Anna and Simeon hold up a tiny baby for all to see. We write two of them off as too old, and the other as too young, but God sees things differently
I met Tinky Robertson back in 2012 when I was out in South Africa. She is ordinary not particularly important white South African woman who now works as a book keeper for the Diocese of Zululand. But back in 1994, just after the first free multiracial elections she lived in Pretoria. Tinky was out jogging one day when who should she meet but President Nelson Mandela, coming jogging in the opposite direction. He introduced himself to her as if he was quite an ordinary person, asked her her name and asked her a few questions about herself and then they both went off jogging in different directions.
A couple of years later, she was out jogging again when who should she meet coming jogging towards her from the opposite direction but President Nelson Mandela. “Hello Tinky” he said. This man who met with the likes of the Queen, President Clinton and Tony Blair, remembered an ordinary woman he had met just once for a few minutes two years earlier.
It seems everyone in South Africa has a Nelson Mandela story. People tell of how he would come back from International summits having bought presents for the children of the most junior staff in the Presidential offices, and having remembered what each child was into.
And yet, this great man, Nelson Mandela, achieved virtually nothing until he was 72 years old.
Indeed he spent 28 years in prison, waiting, waiting waiting for the time to be right when his Rainbow nation could be set free and he could bring in a new era of reconciliation and freedom for all.
Former Mau Mau fighter Kimani Maruge enrolled in the first year at the age of 84 on January 12, 2004. He said the Kenyan government’s announcement of universal and free elementary education in 2003 prompted him to learn to read. And he didn’t stop there. In 2005 Maruge was elected head boy. He did have maturity on his side…
Colonel Sanders didn’t start Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 61
Tolkein didn’t write the Lord of the Rings until he was 62.
Ronald Regan didn’t become president of the USA until he was 69
This Christmas 86 year old Pensioner Betty Williams hit first her local papers in Devon, then the national papers then the TV. Why? Well Betty loved her town of Ottery. People were very friendly most of the time. But at Christmas it got lonely. People went off to their families. It was fine when her husband was alive, but once he died twelve years ago, the Christmas season had become very lonely for this retired school teacher. so Betty approached the local pub, the Lamb and Flag, booked it out for 23rd December and paid over £1,000 to provide a meal and half a bottle of wine each for 50 other old people who would be lonely at Christmas. Then she approached the local Mayor to get him to help organise it and find 50 suitable guests. She tried to do it all anonymously but when it all hit the newspapers and got so much media attention she couldn’t hide any longer who she was.
The event took on a life of it’s own - the Town’s brass band played in the guests to the tune of O Come all ye faithful. The town crier welcomed them into the room,
After the town crier had welcomed the guests, Betty offered a short prayer thanking everyone for attending and reminding everyone that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
And people who had heard about this event from as far away as Holland and America sent in cheques ensuring the event could happen not just this year, but for many years to come. All organised and initiated by 86 year old widow Betty Williams.
Simeon and Anna aren’t mentioned in the bible until they are well past retirement age. They burst onto the scenes in their Zimmer frames, announcing that the baby before them will be the one to change the world. Simeon - we are told nothing of his age - only that he has been told by God the he won’t see death until he has seen the Messiah.
“Now Master you can let your servant go in peace according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory of your people Israel.”
Anna - we are told - was “of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of 84”
Both these two characters are those who would be written off today as “past it” - yet it is they who tell to the whole Temple who Jesus is.