Summary: Part 4 of 5 of the series, Christmas Perspectives. This incredible perspective through the eyes of a man who believed and a woman who worshipped not only gives us a fresh look on the promise fulfilled with the first coming of Jesus but also gives us inspi
THE MAN AND WOMAN WHO LINGERED
READ AT BEGINNING OF SERVICE:
Luke 2:21-39 (NIV)
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. 22 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 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons." 25 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. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
During my preparation for the Christmas Perspectives series of messages I came across a letter that really caught my eye. I saved it for today knowing that it would be the eve of Christmas. I’d like to begin today by reading this letter.
A letter to Santa:
Dear Santa Claus: You’ll probably be surprised to receive this letter from an adult. You may be even more surprised as you read it to find that the writer is neither a maiden aunt nor a disgruntled bachelor. I’m a young mother.
It isn’t my intention, Santa, to hurt your feelings. You see, my family has paid tribute to you for many past Christmases: my husband and I, when we were in our childhood, and now our children who are 6, 4 and 1. They still care for you. How much they care has really proved a problem in recent years. It is threatening to happen again this holiday season. Our children worship you. They speak of you constantly. They watch diligently for your December 25 appearance.
Can you tell us, Santa, what you have done to deserve this faithfulness from two generations? Can you promise any future consideration in exchange for past loyalties? During a family crisis, have you ever told us. "Lo, I am with you always?" Were you ever with us during sorrow to comfort us with these words: "But your sorrow will be turned into joy"? And, Santa, there have been doubtful times. Where were you? We didn’t hear from you the calming message, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
We have come to the conclusion that you have been even less than a friend should be. And we have been shortchanged. My three children have stood in a windy, cold Main Street just to get a glimpse of your jolly face. They have written heartfelt yearly letters. They have gone to department stores to whisper in your ear. They have worked hard at being good in anticipation of your Christmas Eve visit. Yes, they’ve done all this – as their father and I did before them.
But there’s going to be a change this Christmas. There isn’t going to be any Santa Claus worship in our home. We’ve decided to focus our attention and adoration on another Being – One who has stood by us the other 364 days this past year; One who has comforted us during the sorrowful and doubtful times – and, yes, the times of crisis also. It’s true that your name will probably be mentioned around our house, Santa. Old habits are hard to break abruptly. But Someone Else’s name will be mentioned much more often. The children will probably work just as hard at begin good, but I hope they will do it for another inducement – one that will last the whole year long – to bring glory to Another’s name. That other One has given us so much more – and not just on Christmas Eve!