Summary: Lessons learned from the Hope, the Faith, and the Love expressed in Simeon’s Song
THE SONGS OF CHRISTMAS: The Song of an Old Man
Luke 2: 25-35
1. My little 20 month old grandson Kyle certainly loves to sing. He sings in the bathtub. He sings while playing with his toys. And he sings at the top of his voice from his car seat while his mom is trying to talk to me on her cell phone. Sometimes he even uses some words.
2. Most children and even teenagers love to sing – as long as it is their style of music.
3. As we get older, while most of us still love to sing, our capacity to make as pleasing a sound for others generally decreases. It may still sound good to us in our own heads but what comes out our vocal chords tends often to be more like a joyful noise unto the Lord. We struggle to reach the same high notes or range or breadth of octaves and our voices crack without warning.
4. On the third Sunday of each month when we go to the Long Term Care at the hospital and then to Heritage House, we do a lot of singing with the good folks there. And they love to sing. Now no recording company is likely to seek us out to make their next hit CD. No invitations are likely to be extended from around the state or even from any official group here in Morton for us to go on tour – but I tell you that the smile on their faces radiates the joy in the hearts of those dear folk and I am convinced that their songs gladden the heart of our Father God in heaven.
5. Our Scripture reading tells the story of one very old man’s song – a song that would probably never have won him a GRAMMY award among today’s or even yesterday’s musicians – but it has been sung and recited and blessed millions in thousands of church congregations all around the world ever since the 4th century.
• We have come to know it as the Nunc Dimittis – from the opening words in Latin, as a fitting benediction at the end of a worship service “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
• Simeon sings these beautiful words, not to close off a church service, but as an incredible expression of faith and hope at the close of his life. Now he could die in peace because he had not only seen with his eyes, but embraced in his bosom, the promised Messiah he had longed for and hoped for and waited for all his life.
6. Let’s look at Simeon and his song and see what lessons God would teach us as we commence this new year of 2006
A. SIMEON’S HOPE
1. It had been 1000 years since the great days of Israel under King David and the years of relative peace under his son, King Solomon. But in the generations that followed the nation had witnessed a split in the land – a division into a northern and southern kingdom.
• And then, because of corruption and wickedness in the leadership, both temporal and spiritual, God had permitted the invasion, occupation and captivity of the people first by the Babylonians, then the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks and now finally by the Romans.
• So Simeon had been born, grown to adulthood, and now is at the end of his life all under foreign and pagan occupation and influence on his country, his culture, and his religion.
2. The circumstances were such that many people had been driven to cynicism and despair or to passive resignation and acceptance of the status quo.
3. But not Simeon. We are told that Simeon was a “righteous and devout man, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him”. In the time of deepest darkness, he continues to actively look for and believe in the coming of the light.
4. Simeon was no quitter. But nor was he a radical revolutionary ready to take up arms against the oppressors.
5. Simeon was not one who devised his own agenda and then asked God to bless it. Rather he stayed focused on God – looking and listening for His directives and leadership. That takes work. That lifetime of attentiveness to the Master’s voice was what had developed within him a confident patience and hope.
6. I can just imagine him awaking to each new day – even as his joints became less mobile and his hearing faded and his eyesight dimmed - with this question, “Lord is today the day?” and then remaining tenaciously attentive and alert to the promptings and the nudges of the Holy Spirit. His attitude is so reminiscent of that of Jacob back in the Old Testament who wrestled all night with the angel, saying “I will not let you go until you bless me.”