It’s especially wonderful to gather together tonight.
As a teenager… one of the most significant spiritual senses I had came on Christmas Eve… I can
still remember at around 16… driving to a late night candlelight services. I was drawn into the
wonder… God incarnate. It’s never left me.
If I had to capture what I feel in a word… along with wonder… would be HOPE. It’s a sense that
something has come that sets the world aright.
Now tonight is a night filled with hope of a different kind… hoping Santa got the list… grandma
sent the package… mom and dad got the hints.
We hope someone wasn’t too busy to remember us.
Tonight the creator of universe wants you to know… he didn’t forget us… he hasn’t forgotten you.
He’s come to fulfill the hope that’s within us… not for that which will only satisfy for awhile… but
a more ultimate hope.
Tonight is a night that many may be thinking of things they can’t live without… but God invites us
to be those who realize that there is only one gift we can’t live without.
It’s the gift that filled and fulfilled the hopes of Mary and Joseph… the Shepherds… the Magi… but
also two more often missed who first beheld the gift and hope of Christmas.
Luke 2:22, 25-38
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been
completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord...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, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you
have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your
salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation
to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 33 The child’s father and mother
marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary,
his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will
be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." 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
Two characters who make their appearance in the final acts of the Christmas drama. One is a
man named Simeon; the other is a woman named Anna. They don’t appear in any nativity scenes
or in many Christmas cards, but tonight they declare to us the true hope of Christmas.
Amazing / Remarkable encounter… cosmic crossroads
One man and one woman grasp what so many missed. So many were trying to just fulfill their
religious duty… they had become so centered in the Temple activity that they weren’t looking
for anything else. I suppose it’s still happening… and all the more with a holiday like
But there were two who recognized more… two who received the greatest gift the world has
What drew these two?
• “He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” – Luke 2:25
• Knew a world that needed to be made right…
• Waiting for more than most… God’s light for the whole world… Jews… but also Gentiles…
Isaiah 49:6 (NIV)
he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring
back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring
my salvation to the ends of the earth."
• a prophetess –reminder that while culture is often slow to recognize the equality of women…
God had endowed spiritual gifting equally upon women as men.
• A widow… a short marriage… she knew a lot about disappointment… she knew about the
losses and limits of this life… and that we need our lives to be made right.
In that Temple that day were two lives… waiting…
But then everything changes with what is described in eight little words…
“When the parents brought in the child Jesus…”
It wasn’t a new program. It wasn’t a new plan. It was a person.
1. The Hope of Christmas is the Presence of a Person
At this time of year we can tend to put our hope in a new possession we’ll get.
Perhaps in another mere person… but Anna knew that other earthly lives can leave us too early.
Hope is not found merely in our religious activities… even spiritual discipline as vital as it may be
to help us stay connected to that hope. Anna had spent her life serving in the temple. She had a good
blood line. Her hope was in the presence of God coming to redeem the world.
The hope of Christmas is not a program for simply becoming better people… although Christ who
was born bears the insights of human wholeness like no other. It isn’t about just making the world a
little nicer… although the world has been profoundly changed by what this child taught more than
any other figure that has existed. The hope is ultimately his very presence itself.
This teacher… this rabbi… this prophet… had come to save… to redeem…
He alone made God known in the flesh.
He alone would bear our shame… forgive our sins.
He alone would rise to destroy the work of death…. and as the risen one… able to come live in us.
Simeon and Anna knew the hope that is at hand is nothing less than the presence of a person… the
person that was carried into the Temple that day.
How much more should we recognize he who was born, offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins…
and then rose from the dead?
1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new
birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an
inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you.”
Jesus was also the proof that God’s plans cannot be frustrated. He was crucified but he rose again
after three days. He could not be cut off. Satan thought he had frustrated God’s plans. However, he
could not frustrate God’s plans.
The Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” states Jesus purpose in graphic terms which all
can understand. The later part of verse 1 states “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light;
the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
…But why this child?
Four little words speak out…
“as you have promised’
What made their hope different?
The type of hope we generally refer to is an optimistic feeling that all will turn out well… much
more like wishing….
what we mean is that we want something to unfold…
• A girl may say I hope my boyfriend gives me a diamond ring…
• A man may say I hope my team does well this year… We hear this a lot from Lakers fans.
We’re expressing our desire.
But Simeon is referring to that which God offers us… it’s hope based upon the promises of
God…what is and what has been laid out.
2. The Hope of Christmas is secured in the Promises of God.
• Mary and Joseph – received the gift of Christ child because God had spoken to them that this
was the fulfillment.
• Shepherds – because it was ‘just as the angel had said.’
• Magi / Wise men came – because of the signs
• King Herod burst with fear and retribution because of the prophecies that surrounded these
people he was trying to contain.
The same people who Jesus said would have their temple destroyed… and whom the prophets said
would be scattered but one day return to their land as a nation.
> The hope of Christmas is not a sentimental hope… it’s filled with sentiments of a child born in a
manger… of becoming one with us… of making the world a better place… but we must shake off
the sentimental hope to take hold of the substance… the prophetic substance.
Old Gospel song – “Standing on the Promises of God.”
The hope of Christmas is an expectation based on the promises of God.
Hebrews 6:19 (NLT)
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into
God’s inner sanctuary.”
Anchor for the soul…firm and secure. What a powerful image. The hope being referred to isn’t
that of nagging optimism or naïve foolihness… far from some type of flighty thinking… it’s an
anchor dropped deep into the waters of uncertainty.
Romans 5:5 (NLT)
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he
has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
TEACHER’S VISIT TO BOY IN HOSPITAL RENEWS HIM BECAUSE "YOU DON’T TEACH
Several years ago a school teacher assigned to visit children in a large city hospital received a
routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. She took the boy’s name and room number
and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, "We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his
class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework so he doesn’t fall behind the
others." It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized it was
located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and
in great pain. She felt that she couldn’t just turn and walk out, so she awkwardly stammered, "I’m
the hospital teacher and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs." The next
morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, "What did you do to that boy?" Before she could finish
a profusion of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: "You don’t understand. We’ve been very
worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s
fighting back, responding to treatment . . . it’s as though he’s decided to live." The boy later
explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw that teacher. It all changed when he
came to a simple realization. With joyful tears he expressed it this way: "They wouldn’t send a
teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?"
-Submitted by Richard Duerksen, Pacific Union College, Angwin, California. 94508+
> And Simeon and Anna knew that God sent his son to a world he was choosing to redeem.
His song is a salvation hymn: "For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation" (Luke 2:30). Now
he is ready to die! The word dismiss or depart in the Greek has several meanings, and
each of them tells us something about the death of a Christian. It means to release a
prisoner, to untie a ship and set sail, to take down a tent (see 2 Cor. 5:1-8), and to
unyoke a beast of burden (see Matt. 11:28-30). God’s people are not afraid of death because
it only frees us from the burdens of this life and leads into the blessings of the next life.
3. The Hope of Christmas calls for Courage.
Simeon declares this child to be the light of the world… to Jews but also to gentiles…
At this they marveled… but THEN he goes on..
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the
falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the
thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
I’m struck by what Simeon told Mary in verse 34. It must have taken her breath away. “This child is
destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will spoken against…”
That’s not really a joyful Christmas greeting, is it? Simeon is not saying, “Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year.” Rather, he pauses, clears his throat and tells her that Christmas will never be
merry and the New Year will never be happy until people get moving and surrender their lives to
Here’s the truth. Christmas splits people into 2 camps. Since Jesus has entered the world, He has
divided the human race. Jesus will cause the falling and rising of many. Because of who Jesus is
and what He came to do, He forces people to make a decision about Him. The Bible uses powerful
imagery Jesus is either a rock that you build your life upon (that’s the sense of rising) or he’s the
rock that you stumble over (that’s the meaning of falling). On the cusp of the last Christmas of the
millennium, Jesus is calling each of us to a moral decision based upon our willingness to move and
respond, we will either rise or fall.
You can’t stay neutral about Jesus. You are either for Him or against Him. You’re moving closer to
Him, or further away. You either have the Son or you don’t.
Robert Russell tells story of house in his neihborhood that left Christmas lights on for months… he
got frustrated… then saw sign in front..’Welcome home Jimmy’ (Vietnam.) > Lights symbolize
hope. Christ is the light of the world.