January 4, 2023:  Simeon

Grace Frounfelker wrote “It Happened to Ordinary People” as seven monologs that retrace the events surrounding Jesus’ birth through the eyes of certain key characters. We present them here as a special series of devotions this Christmas season. This is from a Simeon.

Forgive me if I don’t get up to shake hands with you. It took all my strength this morning to get as far as this bench in the sun. This is my son’s house. I’ve lived here for more than 20 years now, ever since that first heart attack. Nobody thought I would live this long. Every couple of weeks the pain gets so bad in my chest that I can hardly breathe.

Let me tell you something wonderful, though. When that first heart attack hit me more than 20 years ago, in the middle of the pain when I thought I was dying a voice inside me said, “Simeon, you will not die until you have seen the Messiah, the Christ.” So when­ ever I felt the pain beginning, I would say, “Not yet Lord. I have yet to see the Christ.”

Yesterday I woke up feeling so good! I could take a deep breath and it didn’t hurt. I stood here in the courtyard in the sun, taking deep breaths and feeling strength in my legs like when I was young. I knew what I had to do with that strength. I had to go to the temple. I hadn’t been there for 20 years. It’s more than a mile away and all uphill. My son had gone to the market and only his wife was at home.

“Deborah, I’m going to the temple,” I told her. She just laughed. She stopped laughing, however, when I picked up my walking stick and started toward the gate.

“You can’t mean it, Father. You can’t do that!” Through the courtyard she kept tugging at my sleeve. “It’s not even a feast day, Father. Why must you go today? Please, Father, wait until Reuben can go with you. Please don’t go alone, Father!” She stood in the doorway wringing her hands as I started uphill.

It was hard going, took me more than an hour, maybe near two. But I made it all the way to the temple.

As I sat on the temple steps resting, I heard again that voice inside me saying loud and clear, “The Messiah comes!”

Coming toward me was a young couple bringing their baby boy to present him to the Lord. I approached them and held out my arms for the baby. The young mother’s eyes met mine, and she placed the baby m my arms. I knew that here against my heart lay the fulfillment of God’s pledge to me.

Lord, you have given me my discharge.
You have kept your promise.
I have seen him with my own eyes,
The Savior of your people Israel,
The Deliverer for the heathen as well.

I placed the baby in his mother’s arms again. “He will be rejected,” I warned her. The pain of it will pierce your heart also.”

Then they were gone, and I stood there alone. I felt the strength drain from my body. I sank to the steps. I thought I would die right there, and I was ready. Reuben found me there at sunset, borrowed a cart, and brought me home.

The pain in my chest has been constant since them. It is so hard to breathe. I know that my last breath is near; but I am content. Gods Savior has come. I have seen him.

Grace Frounfelker