The Newborn Christ Brightens the Way We Live
1st Sunday after Christmas, the Presentation of our Lord
The Newborn Christ Brightens the Way We Live
Text: Luke 2:25-40
The waiting game is never easy. There’s a reason why patience is called a virtue. Waiting for family or a dear friend to come to town takes a lot of effort. There are preparations to be made—cooking, cleaning, planning. The excitement of knowing that your loved one is coming and that you will see them very soon makes you want to jump out of your skin. It might make you lose some sleep.
Waiting for a baby to come brings similar excitement. Like cute little Abigale who was baptized today, the anticipation of waiting for something so precious and so special like the birth of a child is sometimes unbearable.
In our house we end up counting sleeps with our little ones. “Ten more sleeps till grandma and grandpa get here.” “Five more sleeps till presents on Christmas.” Or as of today, twenty-two more sleeps until a certain boy turns 5.
Simeon must have been jumping out of his skin. An older man of faith who lived in Jerusalem, Luke tells us that he, “was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.” Like so many other believers throughout the ages—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah, and many more—Simeon was waiting for the one who would bring consoling and encouragement for Israel. Simeon was waiting for the Lord’s promised Messiah, or Christ. Even better, the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that before he died he personally would see the Messiah with his own eyes.
Imagine if someone told you that you were going to meet your favorite celebrity or athlete or hero. Who knows when, but at some point in your life before you died, you would get a chance to personally meet Tom Hanks or President Obama, or even better, Tim Tebow. Every day you might wake up and think, “Is today the day? Will I meet him today? Will I finally get to see the one I’ve been waiting for?”
Simeon waited and waited, and waited and waited. Then one day Joseph and Mary walk into the temple. They were presenting their new baby boy in the temple so that he could be circumcised as the Law required.
What joy! What excitement! Finally! After all those years! Not just for Simeon waiting all those years, but after thousands of years of God’s people waiting! Finally! The Messiah was here! Simeon took the precious Savior in his arms, “and praised God.”
Who did you welcome or greet with such joy and excitement this holiday season? Your children? Your parents? Dear friends? Guests at a party? What joy we have as we welcome those we’ve been waiting for!
What kind of joy did you have to welcome the Messiah this Christmas? Were you waiting and waiting and waiting for his birth? Were you eager and on the edge of your seat throughout Advent as we sang Oh Come, oh come, Emmanuel? Did you pop out of bed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to worship the newborn King?
Or could it be that this Christmas at times we were a little more excited to wrap presents and hang lights? On Christmas Eve were you a little more concerned about how well you grilled your steaks and how fresh your shrimp were? On Christmas Day did you have more thoughts running through your mind about whether you forgot something for your Christmas dinner or whether your Christmas cookies where ooey-gooey enough?
Was Christmas Eve worship a joy for you because the one the world had been waiting for was born or because you love the ambiance of singing Silent Night with a candle in your hand every year? Did Christmas Day worship send shivers down your spine because the Word was made flesh or because you couldn’t believe the words that uncle Charlie said the before?
It’s not just Christmas, is it. Do we wake each morning with joy and peace in our hearts? Is Jesus the first and last thought of each day? As Simeon waited and watched and waited and watched for the Messiah to come, do we wait and watch carefully every day all day for the Messiah to come back for the final time?
How quickly our Christmas joy disappears like a plate of Christmas cookies! How quickly our Christmas attention is diverted like a child tossing one new toy to the side to unwrap the next!
God grant us eyes like the aged and wise Simeon, who waited for Jesus, welcomed Jesus, and saw him for who he really is: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon was at peace. His life was complete and fulfilled. God kept his promises. God really did send the Savior to bring peace, just as he said. What joy Simeon had to see with his own eyes and hold with his own hands God’s salvation. This child would be a light of revelation for the Gentiles. He would shine brightly to all nations with the light of his love and forgiveness. And for the Jews, he would be the glory of the people of Israel.
Simeon also knew how this would happen. In the next verses Simeon prophesied that Jesus would divide the nation. He would cause some to stumble and fall away and others to rise in faith. And May would be pierced down to her heart and soul as later she would see her Son pierced through his hands and feet.
The Newborn Christ Brightened Simeon’s life. Simeon’s life had been lived to the fullest for he then knew that God’s salvation was real. He had peace with God through this eight-day-old child who would save him from his sins.
This newborn babe brightens our lives too. He sheds his light on the way we live. He shines with his forgiveness and love on our hearts and minds of sinful darkness. He fills us with peace. He reveals his glory to us as our Savior from sin.
Every day we can take every step and every breath with such great joy. The one we had been waiting for has come! The Savior was born! What a joy to see his salvation with our own eyes on the pages of Scripture! What a joy to see his salvation with our own eyes given through baptism! What a joy to see his own flesh and blood in his holy Supper. Yes, like Simeon, The Newborn Christ Brightens the Way We Live.
They must have had a great Seniors Group back at the old Jerusalem temple! Simeon wasn’t the only devout believer that liked to hang around the temple. We’re also told about a prophetess named Anna. Anna had been married seven years until her husband died. The rest of her life she lived alone as a widow. At this point she was 84.
But Anna didn’t busy herself with knitting or crocheting. She didn’t sit and gossip and gab with the ladies group. She didn’t watch Golden Girls reruns all day on TV. Luke tells us, “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”
It was her pleasure and privilege to be at the house of God every day. Nothing made her happier than worshiping God and dedicating herself to a pious life of prayer. Certainly, she also, like Simeon, was waiting for the promised Messiah to come.
What was your level of Christmas joy like this year? I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who said, “That Christmas Eve service was just terrible. I can’t stand singing all those favorite hymns. That ambiance of quiet and silence and peace is just terrible.” No. Most everyone loves Christmas worship. I don’t think I saw one person this year who didn’t walk out of Christmas Eve or Day worship that wasn’t beaming with joy or streaming with tears. It’s not just the traditional candlelight service or the good ol’ classic hymns or the bright lights and beautiful poinsettias on Christmas morning. But we certainly do have joy when we worship on Christmas because of our newborn King.
But what about today? Did you come to worship today with that same level of joy? Or what about next week or the week after that? Is it a joy to come to church even when you are really tired—when you worked the late shift, when the baby kept you up all night, when you have the sniffles and a headache? Is it a joy to be in the house of God when that’s your only day off? When the weather is beautiful outside? When we just had two services each of the last two weekends, and, “Oh boy, Lent is coming. That means two services every week and three during Holy Week. Yikes.”
How quickly our Christmas joy disappears! How quickly worship and serving the Lord become tedious chores. “It’s fun to set up the Christmas trees and to be in church on Christmas, but the rest of the year? Meh!”
God grant us a heart like the aged and wise Anna, who waited for Jesus, welcomed Jesus, and had such great joy in her heart over the promised Messiah. Look at how Anna reacted: “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
The Newborn Christ Brightened Anna’s life. She had been waiting and waiting for the Messiah. She had been serving the Lord each and every day. Now when she finally saw the actual Savior, she couldn’t help but burst into thanks and tell everyone she knew about the Lord’s redemption.
Look with the eyes of Simeon. Rejoice with the heart of Anna. See who this little child is and know what he came to do. God has fulfilled his promises to you. He has sent his Son to bring peace. He has sent his Son to shine with the light of his love. This newborn child is our Savior. This newborn child is our consolation and our encouragement. This newborn child is our redemption from sin and an eternity of darkness and hell. Like Simeon and Anna, we have peace. We have seen his salvation. We have seen the light of God’s glory. Like Simeon and Anna, The Newborn Christ Brightens the Way We Live.
There was a woman once named Mary Block. Mary did everything in her church. Especially in the chancel, or front part of the church. She cleaned. She changed the altar cloths. She prepared items for the Lord’s Supper. It seemed as though she was at church almost every day of the week. Unfortunately no one else got a chance to help out, because Mary insisted that she do everything, and she lived to be 93 years old.
At her funeral, the pastor picked a funeral text that perfectly fit Mary and summed up her life, from Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? . . . Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
Like Simeon, like Anna, like Mary Block, we see this newborn Christ child and we burst with joy. Where else would we want to be more than right here in the house of God every week—sometimes twice a week—worshiping our Savior from sin? What else would we want to do more than to rededicate ourselves in this new year to reading God’s words more and worshiping more than ever before? What else would we want to do more than serving God in every way possible? And what else would we want to do than to tell everyone we know about this newborn Savior?
Prayer: Lord, this new year grant me the eyes of Simeon to see your salvation, the heart of Anna to burst with joy, and the peace that comes from your light of love.
Posted on January 1, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Anna, Christmas, Church, Circumcision, Joy, Luke, Luke 2, Nunc Dimittis, Patience, President Obama, Sermons, Simeon, Song of Simeon, The Presentation, Tim Tebow, Tom Hanks, Waiting. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.