You’d expect the arrival of someone long-awaited and much-anticipated would be a beginning. But in today’s passage (Luke 2.25-32) it seems more like an ending. For Simeon, his encounter was an ending to his long wait, and also seemed to be an ending to God’s mission for him. Having seen and welcomed Christ, he felt ready to go.
But of course, in the greater scheme of things, the presentation of Christ in the temple is very much part of a beginning. Simeon’s words themselves acknowledge that this is a world-changing moment. For Simeon, it is an ending, but for God’s people, for humankind, for Jesus himself, it is a beginning. Simeon recognised that he was part of something very much bigger than himself, with a timescale greater than his own beginning and ending.
And I wonder too what Simeon would have thought of as a beginning in his life? He’d spent a lifetime waiting, but he wasn’t waiting to get started. A lifetime of prayer and active expectation of the coming saviour had preceeded his encounter with Jesus. Too often we think we need to wait to fully understand God’s purpose for us before we can get started. Actually, the beginning comes way before that, with a willingness to trust and follow, even if it takes a lifetime for God’s plan to be revealed to us.