Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
The supporting actor always arouses more cheers from me than those who typically grab the headlines and hype.
They are the ones who play critical backup roles in successful television shows, movies, sports, and most importantly — life.
Barney Fife and Eddie Haskell were at the core of my two favorite 60s television shows. I still get chuckles out of lines like Barney’s “If there’s anything upsets me, it’s having people say I’m sensitive” and Bad Boy Eddie’s “Gee Mrs. Cleaver, your hair looks real pretty today.”
Mary Badham’s role as Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird” left a life-changing impression on my soul.
While Stockton-to-Malone carried the Utah Jazz banners during the glory years, how successful would they have been without Thurl Bailey, Mark Eaton, and Phil Johnson? Probably just another so-so NBA team.
Too often we rush through the Christmas story only to stop after reading of the manger, shepherds and the wise men, forgetting the importance of two supporting roles.
The few New Testament verses written about Anna and Simeon help me reflect upon the significant supporting roles they played following the birth of our Savior.
Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for the second time in keeping with the laws of the Jewish faith.
The carpenter Joseph had purchased a pair of turtledoves to be sacrificed in honor of the occasion and soon afterward they met the elderly strangers Simeon and Anna.
Simeon had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would lay eyes upon the promised King of the Jews before he died.
He was moved by the Holy Ghost to visit the temple on that day where he took the infant Jesus into his arms, “and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared before the face of all people …”
Simeon then described the baby Jesus as “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Only three verses in Luke 2 discuss Anna, but those few words shed a wealth of information.
We know that Anna was a prophetess of the tribe of Asher. Luke also tells us that she was a widow of 84 years at the time of our Lord’s birth.
She is also referred to as a “prophetess,” the only female in the New Testament to be honored with that title.
As a prophetess, she saw things that were hidden from ordinary people. Anna set a high standard of humility, obedience, and service to God. It is recorded she “departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”
When she learned of the birth of Christ, Anna did what we all should do when she came “in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
It was Anna who made an extraordinary claim by predicting to Mary and Joseph their newborn son would free Jerusalem from Roman rule.
As we head down the home stretch of this Christmas season, may I remind you of the words of a favorite modern-day supporting actor of mine: Howard W. Hunter.
“The sign at the railroad crossing that warns us to stop, look, and listen could be a guide for us,” he said. “Stop as we rush through life. Look for all the friendly, thoughtful, courteous things we can do, and all the little human needs we can fill. Listen to others and learn of their hopes and problems so that we will be able to contribute in little ways to their success and happiness.”
Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.