Summary: We embrace the world, as Simeon did, when we embrace faith, hope, and love as we both embrace and are embraced by Christ.
Introduction: “Last Christmas, This Christmas e-mail forward”
“If you have e-mail, perhaps you received one entitled Merry Christmas that said something like this;”
Last Christmas, we were thinking about all the things we didn’t have; this Christmas, we are thinking about all the things we do have.
Last Christmas, we were counting our money; this Christmas, we are counting our blessings.
Last Christmas, we were thinking about the madness of the holidays; this Christmas, we are thinking about the meaning of them.
Last Christmas, we were getting on one another’s nerves; this Christmas, we are getting on our knees.
Last Christmas, we believed in the power of the pocketbook; this Christmas, we believe in the power of prayer.”
Transition: On the final Sunday of our advent series, The Christmas Touch, we are going to spend a moment with Simeon, a man of great faith, great hope, and great love as we close 2001 and prayerfully look forward to 2002 because his example of hope, faith, and love serves a model to us as we move into the future that God has for us. A future that requires us to embrace, to reach out to, a world full of both pain and possibilities. Lets take a look at Simeon.
Observation number 1: Simeon embraced the world through faith because of his faith in God’s faithfulness.
Luke 2:25 “He (Simeon) was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he eagerly expected the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.”
Simeon had the faith to believe that God would send the Messiah to rescue Israel. Rescue from what? Isaiah 40:1 and 2 could have been on his mind, “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and that her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her in full for all her sins.”
Simeon was a man, as we shall see, full of the Holy Spirit. He was sensitive to the spiritual conditions of his land and his people. He wanted them to see and experience a deliverance and freedom that only God, through the Messiah, could make possible. This desire created the climate for a strong and vibrant faith because he believed that God would rescue Israel.
But, there was more than faith involved.
Observation number 2: Simeon was able to embrace the world, (the people around him) because of his hope in God’s promise to him.
Luke 2:26 “The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.”
Simeon waited expectantly for coming of the Messiah. But, he waited with hope in God’s promises and abilities. This hope impacted God! It created the conditions by which God honored Simeon’s hope and allowed him to not just see, but to also hold the Messiah in his arms.
Now as Simeon waited expectantly for the Messiah, I have a strong feeling that he just did not sit at home. The hope, the faith, the love of God that he experienced day in and day out, motivated him to be among people loving them, caring for them, giving them a reason to hope to live because God had not forgotten them.
But, to embrace the world, it requires more than faith and hope, it requires love.
Observation number 3: Simeon embraced the world because of his love for God as demonstrated in his response to seeing Jesus for the first time.
Luke 2:28 “He took the child in his arms and praised God.”
At last, here is the Messiah! How did Simeon know this? How could he proclaim, as we read in verse 30, “I have seen the savior?” Look at verse 27 “the Spirit led him to the Temple.”
Simeon’s faith and hope created the conditions for an obedient walk and strong relationship with God that enabled him to be led by the Spirit. But faith and hope also made love possible.
Think about it for a moment. Think about a friend or family member that you dearly love. Do you believe in (have faith in) them? Do you have hope in them? Love is not too far behind, is it?
Of course, the opposite is true as well. Where is love if there is no faith or confidence present? Where is love if there is no hope or trust involved?
The baby that Simeon held in his arms was the Messiah. He came to forgive sins, to set people in all sorts of bondage free, to release people imprisoned by all sorts of thing. This Messiah embraced the world!
And at the end of His ministry, He said, “Go and make disciples!” Go embrace the world! Tell them that real change is possible! Help them to experience my freedom touch, my liberating spirit, help them to understand that life, in spite of all its despair, can be better!
I believe that Jesus wants to remind us to go and embrace the world in His name this next year. Let us do so in faith, hope, and love. Amen.