This Sunday, I will be visiting Cajun country as Simeon the Righteous brings his message to Asbury United Methodist Church in Lafayette, LA. This will be my first performance of the Advent season, followed by two more in central Texas churches. To give you some background on this character, I have excerpted the chapter on “Receive” in my devotional book, Just One Word:
I began writing my biblical monologue, Simeon’s Dream, when I was the guest speaker at a weekend retreat in Illinois. In between my talks, I would wander out on the campgrounds, sit on a leafy slope and scribble in a spiral notebook. After I had written the piece, my hunt for costuming began. I found a designer in North Carolina who created authentic biblical clothing. I visited a local theatrical store and bought a lace-backed beard and mustache. While I was there, I also picked up a long, crooked staff that looked like something an old prophet would carry. Sandals from a thrift store completed the outfit.
I debuted the monologue in the year 2000. Since then, I have performed Simeon’s Dream dozens of times in locations as varied as rural church basements to cathedral-like chapels in the big city. After a few years of performances, an idea hit me to recruit a host church member to play Mary at the climactic moment in which Simeon takes the baby Jesus into his arms.
At one church on a chilly December night, I pointed to the back of the sanctuary to direct attention to the teenage girl who was portraying Mary. She slowly made her way down the aisle, singing a lullaby. The doll she nestled in her arms seemed to become a real baby. I took the artificial child but real tears pooled in my eyes. I thought about my own children and how loathe I would be to give up any of them for any reason, no matter how noble.
And then, as I uttered the heartfelt prayer of Simeon recorded in Luke 2:29-32, I thought, God was not loathe to do this at all. He gave His own Son to light the way for the nations and to glorify Israel. He did it for all of us.
At that point I wasn’t acting. I was simply giving thanks and praise in a costume.
Just One Word (c) 2011 by Mark Winter