Summary: This sermon focuses on the power of waiting.
Christmas is a few days a way. For some of you that brings excitement. For others anxiety and stress. Regardless of the emotion, I hope this week gives you the opportunity to reflect upon our question, What is the day truly all about?
As we have sought to answer this question, we have looked at the first hand testimonies of the shepherds, Joseph, and of Anna and Simeon. And it is here with Anna and Simeon, I would like to linger a bit with them. Two weeks ago we examined the responses of Anna and Simeon and this morning I would like to look closely at Mary and Joseph’s response to the words and prophesies of Anna and Simeon.
With that thought in mind turn with me to Luke Chapter 2 beginning in verse 33
If you remember, Anna and Simeon waited for the messiah to come. As they waited, each longed for something different. Simeon longed for comfort and Anna waited for forgiveness. This week as Christmas approaches as little children wait for Santa, wait for the presence and purpose of Jesus Christ in your life. And if you too long for comfort like Simeon or Forgiveness like Anna, then patiently wait for Jesus this week.
And as you do this, I want to offer to you three action steps that will help you experience the presence of God during this week.
The first action step is Become a Marveler
When Joseph and Mary tried to process everything that was happening, verse 33 says that they marveled at what was said about Jesus. According to the dictionary, to become a marveler is to be filled with wonder, astonishment, and surprise.
Are you a marveler this Christmas? Or, are you too caught up in the busyness and stress of the season? Have you been running around because of the Holidays, or are you taking the time to make Christmas a “holy” day? Has Christmas become too predictable, too familiar? Have you heard the Christmas story so much that it no longer astonishes you?
Actually, this can be a dangerous time of the year for us. Our annual celebration of Christmas can immunize us to its reality. We hear just enough of the story each year to inoculate us against the real thing, so that we never really catch true Christmas fever.
Here’s an idea that may help you recapture the marvel of Christmas. Pick one of the Christmas characters and put yourself in their sandals. Imagine what it must have been like to witness the Christmas story first hand. Go ahead; pick one -- Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, Simeon, Anna, or the Wise Men.
A second action step is to become a mover.
Take a look at verse 27: “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” Now drop down to verse 38: “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God...”
Both Simeon and Anna were movers. When the Holy Spirit prompted them to move, they didn’t sit still. I wonder what would have happened if they had not responded? Actually, every one of the Christmas characters responded to the Spirit’s leading with the exception of Herod:
Mary was ready to move when she said to the angel, “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 2:38)
Joseph demonstrated that he was a mover when he woke up from his dream and “...did what the angel of the Lord had commanded and took Mary home as his wife.” (Matthew 1:24)
The Shepherds were movers as well when they said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened...” (Luke 2:15)
Friend, when God prompts you to do something, then you need to do it. It might mean salvation for some of you. It might mean full surrender for others of you. Or, maybe the Spirit wants you to be more involved in serving people. Do you sense Him asking you to do something tonight? Are you a mover? Are you willing to move? Don’t procrastinate when God prompts you to do something -- you may miss out on a miracle this Christmas.
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 Christ.
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.