A Story for Candlemas

by James Clarke

‘Hello I’m Jacob, one of the volunteers here in Jerusalem’s great Temple.  I guide people to the right places, stop some going where they shouldn’t, only a few priests are allowed in the holiest rooms, but still they try… anyway – I guess you can call me “Everyman” – lost my job, couldn’t get another, so wandered in here so often they signed me up for this!

You see all sorts here you know. People coming to carry out the law – I’ll come back to that in a moment – people coming to pray near the Holy of Holies that they’ve heard about in Synagogues and to hear the preaching and praying that goes on all the time.  There’s a market too, because you have to have the right kind of money to pay tribute, and so on and on – the rules are pretty much endless.

There’s characters too. Just recently a couple who are here every day, all day, every day, seemed to be part of something very special… let me tell you…

There’s this old guy, when I say old, I mean ancient, he left three score years and ten behind a long time ago.  He has become convinced that God will not let him die until he sees the Messiah.  So everyday he’s here calling out “Messiah is coming” – “The Chosen One will come” – things like that… every day. Course, the Priests and the legal boys try to shut him up, but he carries on; “Messiah is coming”… and he watches as people come in and pass him to see if this is The One!  Well, the way I see it is that we certainly could do with Messiah – sort out the Romans for a start – give us our country back, give us control of our own affairs, instead of looking over our shoulders all the time for Pilate’s men…

Simeon, that’s his name, was as usual watching and praying, and calling out his prayer- “Messiah is coming!” – when he suddenly stopped and moved over to a couple with a baby- I didn’t know why he was interested in them, they didn’t look like any kind of Messiah to me – but who am I? They had just come to make the offering of a couple of pigeons in honour of the firstborn son..

But Simeon was determined to talk to them.  And as I watched, he took the child from the mother, and lifted him up – like this – and do you know, his face changed , the years dropped away and it positively glowed, shone with radiance? Happiness? I don’t know!

Then he started to speak aloud a psalm, well it sounded like one, but not one I knew.  Seemed to be saying,

“I can die now, Your promise has come true.”


“I’ve seen your salvation. A light for all the world… and glory to God’s people.”

For all the world?  Not just us children of  Father Abraham?

All the time this beautiful, serene, glowing face..then he said something to the mother, it must have hurt, because she stepped back almost falling as the husband caught her and held her up.  It must have been a very hard thing he said…

Then the couple made to move on, but another great character appeared. Old Anna, well past 80, here every day praying and worshipping God… every day  She saw what happened with the old man, and came over shouting with sheer joy and excitement praised God and started to tell everyone about the child… I found out he’s called Jesus, and mum and dad are Mary and Joseph.  What they made of it I don’t know… but somehow it feels right, those two oldies saw something and knew.

I’ll never forget that face… the joy in it, the certainty the promise was done, and her prayers and excitement, stopping people telling them…

You know what?  When I get home tonight I’m going to tell people too, my family the neighbours…I wonder what they will make of it.  But I am going to tell them!!’




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