Summary: We have been waiting and watching through November and December. Simeon and Anna, too, were waiting, and now, like these senior saints, our wait is over. Lord, now let Your servants depart in peace; according to Your Word.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Waiting. It seems that for the past couple of months that’s what we have been talking about.
During the month of November we spoke of waiting and watching for the final coming of our Lord.
We heard the words from Jesus, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
We also heard from him the word: “Watch.”
Now, some might take that as a command, others might take it as a warning.
But as Christians we take it with anticipation – anticipation and great joy.
We know what that final coming means and what lies in store for those of us who believe.
We know that there will be judgment and separation, but we know that there will also be great reward.
Not a reward such as money or a gold star, but the reward of eternal life.
A reward already won for us, not through our good works or our moral living, but through the grace of God. Through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
During the month of December, the season that the Church calls Advent, a word that means, coming, we prepared for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.
The secular world joins with the Church during this season.
Those who don’t necessarily believe in Jesus, still like to participate in His annual birthday celebration.
So much so, that the preparation for the “big day” keeps getting pushed further and further away from the actual event.
Whereas the Church takes a month for the preparation, the secular world has taken to starting its’ preparation immediately after Halloween, if not sooner.
Apparently, all the preparation didn’t work this year, however, because one of the big news stories this past week seems to be that the Christmas season was a disappointment.
A disappointment as far as retail sales go, anyway.
How about yours? Was your Christmas disappointing? Did you get everything that you hoped for and desired?
When you rummaged through those packages, so neatly wrapped with paper and bows, did you find the one that you were looking for, …you know, that special one? Was the wait worth it?
In our Gospel text this morning, we hear another story of waiting.
This text really should be read on February 2nd. That would be the 40th day after the birth of Jesus.
According to Leviticus, a woman would be unclean after the birth of a boy for a period of 40 days. On that 40th day, she was to present herself to the Priest along with a lamb and a dove for sacrifice.
The priest would then offer the sacrifice for the purification of the woman. If the woman could not afford a lamb, two doves could be substituted.
Mary, Jesus mother, and Joseph would have waited this period of time before making the short trip from Bethlehem to the holy city of Jerusalem to present their firstborn son at the Temple.
There was more waiting going on at the Temple.
An elderly Jew, pious and devout, sat patiently near the back of the Temple.
He had become a fixture there, waiting day after day. Some thought he was strange, but he knew what he was waiting for.
Yahweh, through the power of the Holy Spirit, had told him that he would not depart from his earthly life until he seen the Lord’s Christ.
And so he had waited. He would look at those who entered into God’s house. Is that the one? Or perhaps him?
Time was beginning to take its toll on the old man, but he held firm to the promise of God.
He had searched the scriptures to have a sign of the coming Messiah. He knew that the Christ would be one of his own, a descendent of Abraham. He knew that he would come from David’s royal family.
Today, however, was a special day. The Spirit had guided him here with more than hope, more than promise. He was moved with anticipation.
He saw the young couple as they came to the Temple.
His eyes followed them. Certainly this couldn’t be. This poor couple bringing a newborn for presentation to the Lord.
He saw as they purchased, not a lamb, but a pair of doves to offer for the sacrifice.
As they approached, Simeon felt himself moving toward them.
Imagine the shock on the face of Mary and Joseph as this old stranger approached, looking, not at them, but at the child Mary held in her arms.
His face seemed to almost glow as he looked at the face of their child. He gently reached for and then cradled the baby in his arms.