Sermon Preparation -
December 26, 1999
The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born.
They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord, just as the Law of the Lord says, "Each first-born baby boy belongs to the Lord." The Law of the Lord also says that parent have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or tow young pigeons. So that is what Mary and Joseph did.
At this time a man named Simeon was living in Jerusalem. Simeon was a good man. He loved God and was waiting for God to save the people of Israel. God's Spirit came to him and told him that he would not die until he had seen Christ the Lord.
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to do what the Law of Moses say should be done for anew baby, the Spirit told Simeon to go into the temple. Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God,
"Lord, I am your servant, and now I can die in peace,
because you have kept your promise to me.
With my own eyes I have seen what you have done
to save your people, and foreign nations will also see this.
Your mighty power is a light for all nations,
and it will bring honor to your people Israel."
Jesus' parents were surprised at what Simeon had said. Then he blessed them and told Mary, "This child of yours will cause many people in Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning sign. Many people will reject him, and you, Mary, will suffer as though you had been stabbed by a dagger. But all this will show what people are really thinking."
The prophet Anna was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. In her youth she had been married for seven years, but her husband died. And now she was eighty-four years old. Night and day she served God in the temple by praying and often going without eating.
At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free.
After Joseph and Mary had done everything that the Law of the Lord commands, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. The child Jesus grew. He became strong wise, and God blessed him. [CEV]
1. Jesus is born. Advent concludes. Now what? We could focus in on doing everything the Law of the Lord commands, but even Jesus will break some of those later in his teaching years. Let's look at Simeon and Anna.
2. It is not the most up-to-date person who catches a glimpse of this unexpected future -- Emmanuel, God with us. It is old Simeon who sees a saving coming through birth and growth, not a cataclysm from the outside (not from a Y2K disaster). This saving will bring difficulty and the need for folks to claim a particular identity (to stand or fall on the side of Emmanuel). This will be a difficult time for everyone concerned but it is the only way to the unity of faith and life -- to be clear about what we are really thinking by evaluating the way we are really living. Now Simeon is ready to die -- to conclude his present vision and embark upon a new one.
3. Anna, focused on eternal issues in a consistent application of prayer and fasting, sees differently than Simeon (who saw trouble ahead) and began to praise (who sees thanks to be given in the moment).
Here is the deal for now -- Do you hope for your life to be set free? Do you know others who are so hoping? What do you see in the birth of Jesus to stimulate you to give thanks that you have received hope and to tell others about the hope you have found? What do you see in life around you to stimulate you to those same behaviors?
May you rejoice and participate in the Ancient Order of Simeon and Anna -- so may you shape your life to be alert to the signs of your time. May you know yourself blessed and blessing.
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