Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School. The following excerpt appeared in Faith & Leadership.
Simeon and Anna are able to recognize who this baby is because their vision has been disciplined by faithful observance of Israel’s sacrificial life centered on the temple. That Simeon and Anna expect to see Israel’s salvation makes those of us who are Christians distinctly uncomfortable.
The Jewish challenge, “If Jesus has brought salvation, why does the world seem like it is all going to hell in a handbasket?” stings because we can’t deny the truthfulness of the observation that the state of the world hardly seems to validate our confession that salvation has come. We are even tempted to deny that it has, by instead fixating on Christ’s coming again.
We prefer to defer recognition by assuming we will see salvation when all has been judged and made right in the eschaton. But that is hardly the good news of the gospel! If we refuse to see salvation now, how can we expect to recognize it then? The question for us today is, Have we been disciplined enough by the sacramental life of the church to recognize Jesus when he is in our midst?