(I’m taking part in the Twitter #adventbookclub, which extends from Advent through Christmas and into Epiphany. We are reading “Beginnings and Endings” by Maggi Dawn. My reflections on these will sometimes be put in a blog post.)
First, let me wish a Happy New Year to readers of this blog; and for those from Wales, Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
Today’s story of Simeon (Luke 2:25-32) is a very good illustration of the “Beginnings and Endings” theme of Maggi Dawn’s book. The beginning of the earthly life of Jesus, the beginning of Joseph’s and Mary’s life as parents, the beginning of the whole story of the Word become flesh – this is also an ending, especially for Simeon. It’s the ending of his many years of waiting to see the Messiah, waiting for a promise to be fulfilled; and as Maggi says it probably shows the nearness of his death, the end of his life.
We often quote the proverb, “when one door closes, another opens”, to remind ourselves that the end of something often means the start of something new or different. But the opposite is also true: the beginning of something can mean the end of something else. So whether we see something as a beginning or an end depends on our perspective.
I was thinking about this particularly as a parent. As our children grow up, leave home, find someone to share their life with, these are all new beginnings for them – but an end to the relationship we had with them before. It will hopefully be the start of a new relationship, in some ways richer than before, but it will be different. I wonder how many new beginnings are spoiled by people who cannot let go, who refuse to recognise the end of something?
Simeon knew what was at stake, and was ready for the consequences, even perhaps welcoming them. “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace”.
In this new year, may we welcome new beginnings, and be ready to let go things that need to end.