Summary: 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 prophe


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

of Jerusalem.

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

ever known.

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.”



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.