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26th January: Waiting

There was a man ... waiting ... and the Holy Spirit was upon him. Luke 2:25 (NIV)

You do not need to be a London commuter to realise that hurry and impatience characterise our society. Food must be `instant', so that even the art of unpacking the prepacked is a source of frustrating delay. Public transport puts speed at a premium.

Although hasty work is no longer regarded as a virtue in medicine, the trait still shows itself in the profession. The pendulum has now swung from the extreme of surgeons still `Assistants' in their fifties, to young people in a hurry for the top in their twenties. The forbidding bottleneck for good registrar posts in a hospital career means greater pressure to publish, to attract attention and gain the support of the influential. Everything must contribute to that end, serving a predetermined objective. Do we will feel the wonder and privilege that is part of the study of medicine? Saturday mornings in hospitals used to be times of departmental meetings, and an occasion for leisured discussion. Nowadays, even large teaching hospitals have corridors that are forbiddingly quiet.

Simeon spent a lifetime of study. No doubt he experienced disappointments. He may have had youthful ambitions, but he had lived long enough to prove that ambition fulfilled can be as empty as ambition frustrated. Yet of one thing he was sure -- that a Delivered would come to the Jews who would also enlighten a darkened Gentile world. He was sure of God's word and its literal fulfilment. This certainty gave him a confidence which, in turn, bred patience. He could afford to wait. It may be significant, especially in a frenetic peripatetic world such as ours, that Simeon did his waiting `in Jerusalem'. God's other watcher, Anna, `never left the temple'.

Waiting often means staying put. The distant grass may appear greener, but our first duty must be to wait on God where we are.

I though there would be far-off scenes
the challenge of lost souls till thou did'st show
in seas of sameness ordinary folk I passed
In blind familiarity -- more lost
than those whom distance still enhances.
Ruthe Spinnanger.

Simeon, the visionary, was no softie. He saw, in advance, the offence of Christ's cross. When he experienced the truth of God's promise, he, in turn, kept true to God's word.

Further reading: Lk 2:25-32. Ps 27:8-14. Ps 62:5-8.


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