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Summary: It is through photographs that my family traces time. Simeon was a man who understood the passage of time - then he met the Messiah! A Christmas Eve devotion.

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Christmas Eve Service 12-24-98

INTRODUCTION

(Slides of our family Christmases through the years are shown while I’m talking).

Every year at the Christmas celebration in the home of my parents, the camera comes out. It’s somewhat of a running joke among us that our Christmas pictures year after year tend to look pretty similar. We always gather in the same room, for many years on the same furniture. You can tell the years apart because of what the people are wearing and because we keep getting older.

We get older – it’s just a fact of life.

I celebrated my first Christmas in 1969. So long ago that life only appeared in black and white.

I am the youngest in our family. My sister Melody is 13 years older than me. My brother Mark is 8 years older.

I have a lot of special memories captured in snapshots. Like the year I was sick for Christmas, but at least I got new Chicago Bears pajamas.

And the year I got a new 10 speed bike.

My sister got married and had children. That added more faces to the snapshots.

And I continued to grow up.

And my parents continued to age.

My brother got married and had children. More new faces.

And he continued to age.

And so did my sister.

And so did her children.

And so did my parents.

Now my brother has a son.

And my parents have new furniture as of last year.

And we all continue to age.

And eventually fall in love to one day start families of our own.

Christmas marks the passage of time. This year I will celebrate my 30th Christmas in the same room with the same people.

(Slide show ends here)

Through these pictures my family traces time. Time marches on. Hour after hour. Day after day. Week…month…year. Until time is no more. The cynic would say these pictures are just a story of how we all grow old and eventually die.

Christmas gives meaning to time. It was the birth of Christ that makes time something more than just hours to be endured.

In Luke chapter 2, we encounter a man who understands the passage of time. Read 2:25-26

This man’s name is Simeon. He’s a senior citizen. An elderly gentleman. He’s seen many years come and go. He was just a boy when the Roman Empire took control of Palestine almost 60 years ago. He undoubtedly remembers the way Pompey, the Roman general, conquered Jerusalem after a 3-month siege of the temple area, massacring Jewish priests in the performance of their duties and then entering the Most Holy Place. This sacrilege began Roman rule in a way that Jews could neither forgive nor forget. He’s even lived through the changes that have occurred because of Roman rule.

But still, after seeing all this change and all of the bloody destruction in his homeland through the years of his life, Simeon remains a man of hope. Verse 25 says that, “He was waiting for the consolation of Israel,” that is, the comfort, the relief that the Messiah would bring to his people. He most definitely remembered the words of the prophet Isaiah, words that had gone through his mind every day for many years, words that the composer Handel would later carefully put to the music of The Messiah,


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