Good morning! Our reading for Thursday, December 7, 2017 was Luke 2:21-39
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God
36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 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.
There were two important witnesses to Jesus’ birth. They were very spiritual and religious people and were elderly. Too often people of age claim they have done their part and accept a retirement from service to God and his church. These two show us that no matter our age we are expected by God to be prepared to serve to the capacities we are given. There is no retirement in God’s kingdom. Our jobs may change but not our service and certainly not our witness.
Mary and Joseph were good and observant Jews who since they were so close to Jerusalem as Bethlehem is only six miles away it was only prudent for the couple to take their newborn to follow the custom of dedication at the Temple. Upon entry to the common area of the temple they were met by Simeon. We know little about him except that he was “righteous and devout.” His spiritual life was deep as it is said of him that he was led by the Holy Spirit to believe he would not die until he saw the coming of the Christ. The arrival of the promised Messiah is what is meant by the phrase “the consolation of Israel.” The fact of his spiritual devotion must have been evident by his presence and actions where the witness of message given him was explained by him to the couple.
The purpose of his presence there that day was not simply to reward Simeon for his lifetime of faithfulness, though that is certainly part of the purpose, but that he could confirm to Mary and Joseph what they had believed about their son. We are need confirmation of God’s presence and purpose being worked out in our circumstances and we need timely reminders of God’s continuing presence to keep us on course. Simeon provided this confirmation and encouragement to both Mary and Joseph. We need to be more sensitive that others need similar confirmation and encouragement in their walk with Christ. When most of our capabilities have left us it may well be this that God grants us to provide so long as we have mind and voice but the mentoring of faith to the les experienced.
Simeon’s words came with an instruction that was not pleasant to hear – the future with Jesus would be marked by our experience of pain and sorrow. The Christmas story is a beautiful one of joy and hope. We like the lighter side its celebration brings, however, there is a darker side. Young boys were slaughtered in Bethlehem as a result of his birth and the holy family would have to flee for their lives. Eventually Mary would witness the suffering and execution of the child she bore and had dedicated to God. Having Christ in our lives does not insulate us from trouble or suffering. It does mitigate it though as we submit ourselves to God’s purposes.
Besides Simeon, so Luke describes and elderly widow named Anna who witnessed the conversation between Mary and Joseph with Simeon. She immediately was moved to become part of the conversation. She was acquainted with Simeon and knew of his spiritual reputation as she was noted for her own devout life. Anna was personally was acquainted with grief. Anna was “very old” and had been widowed most of her life. She was acknowledge for possessing a gift of prophecy and her presence confirmed the words spoken by Simeon as well as provided comfort for them as she was tangible evidence of faithfulness despite struggle and loss as Mary would know fully.
God provides us with what we need when we need it. Only those who live by faith know this for they experience it. God provided confirmation and encouragement to Mary and Joseph as well as instruction to prepare them for the unexpected and what they should expect from being the parents of God’s Son.
Mary and Joseph would know their destiny as it was born by two witnesses, an older man and woman of faith. Let us face the day knowing God is to be found in it and then let us be sensitive to discover it and be encouraged.
Blessings! Brian Homan, pastor
Liverpool First UM Church