Connections 12.27.2020: The Blessings of the Old

Luke 2:22-38

My grandparents have played an enormous role in my life.

My mother’s parents worked side by side for years in the tiny town of Woodland, Georgia. Grandmama was the local postmaster, and next door to her, Granddaddy operated his grocery store. Almost every Sunday after church, our extended family gathered at their home about a mile from their places of business and enjoyed lunch together. The cousins ran around outdoors in the huge yard or played in the basement while the adults chatted in the living room.

My father’s parents are still living. When I was a child, we would drive across the small city of Manchester to visit them in their home or swim in their pool. When I became a teenager, my family moved into the house right across from theirs, and we spent many hours with them once we became their neighbors. To this day, I enjoy sitting with Mom, as I call my grandmother, and talking for hours about the past, the present, and even the future. Pop, my grandfather, has lived in a nursing home for more than year, which has been especially difficult during the pandemic (no visitors allowed). Even so, I can hear his voice on the phone and see his smiling face through the window of his room.

We don’t read anything about Jesus’ grandparents in Scripture. That doesn’t mean he had none. Perhaps they had already died by the time he was born. Maybe they were still alive but lived elsewhere. Or possibly they were involved in his childhood, but the biblical writers didn’t mention them.

Scripture does provide images of the elderly blessing Jesus. Our lesson text is one of my favorites about the infant Christ. I like to imagine young Mary, her husband Joseph at her side, cradling her tiny baby at the temple.

Simeon isn’t directly identified as an old man, but since he is promised that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah” (v. 26), his old age is implied. I can see his balding head as he bends over the baby and takes him from his mother’s arms. I can hear the years in his voice as he praises God for this child.

Anna, however, is definitely “of a great age,” at least “eighty-four” (see vv. 36-37). I can see her white hair shining in the light that streams through the temple windows, and I can hear her speaking words of prophecy over the little baby, her voice echoing in the great room.

We need the wisdom of older people. We need their love, encouragement, and care. We need the stories of their long years of experience with life on this earth. We need to look at them and know that we, too, can have such a legacy—that old age is not something to fear but something to yearn for. We need their blessings.

Discussion

  • Who are the elderly people in your life? How have they loved, encouraged, cared for, and blessed you through the years?
  • Why do you think Luke includes this story about Simeon and Anna in the temple? Why is it important that these older people blessed baby Jesus?
  • If you are a younger person, what do you think of getting old? How can you learn to yearn for old age rather than fear it? What blessings do you need from the older people in your life?
  • If you are older, how can you continue to age with grace? How can you bless younger people?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, and her husband John. Occasionally, she appears onstage in community theater productions and can sometimes be found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel movies, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who, and she’s still trying to write a young adult novel that her girls will enjoy.

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