"What in the world are we going to do with those two old people? They are always here. They know more about what goes on in this place than anybody else, and yet they never seem satisfied. They go through the motions and they participate in the service, and yet it never seems to be enough. It is like they keep waiting for something special to happen. Yom Kippur isn't enough to cleanse their sins, they act like what they want is that burning coal on the lips like Isaiah. The choir sings magnificently and they are pleased but you still get the feeling the only think that would make them really happy is to hear the angels themselves sing. What is wrong with them? They just never seem to be satisfied with anything!"
Ah, so you have met Old Simeon and Anna. Nobody knows for sure how long either one of them has been here. Somebody has said that Anna has been here more than 84 years, but nobody knows if they are counting from when she became a widow or from when she became a woman. But they are harmless. They won't bother you any. Although I will confess that sometimes it does get to be a little unnerving to have them wandering around mumbling that stuff about longing and hoping for the consolation of Israel all the time. You and I could repeat old Anna's prayer ourselves because all she is ever talking about is praying for the coming of the redemption of God's people.
I used to resent them and the way they always were hanging around and sharing in the worship and then, is you suggest, kind of throwing a wet blanket on all of our successes. Just when we had one of the largest and best days in the temple, there would be Simeon and Anna still with that look in their eyes and that longing in their hearts for that something more that you and I would never be able to give them. And over the years it has slowly begun to dawn on me that they are best that all our devotion could produce.
You see that young family over there bringing that young boy here to be dedicated? If you were to ask them why they are bringing their child to the temple, they would tell you in order that He might grow up according to the Law, that he might be shaped and nurtured according to the traditions of God, that he might become one of the children of God, that he might have his life structured and sustained by the Word and Promises of God. They might not say it that way, but that is why they come and Old Simeon and Anna are the best the system produces.
You may find that hard to believe but the one thing that makes it so is the very thing that disturbs you the most. Old Simeon and Anna have lived all their lives waiting on the promise of God to bring about the redemption of His people. That one hope, that one vision, that one dream, has been the center of their entire lives. They have refused to settle for anything less. No matter how close it might have been, no matter how helpful it was, no matter how powerful it is, no matter who told them something, they have focused their lives on the coming of the consolation of Israel. They have been waiting the coming of God's act to bring His Kingdom on Earth.