“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light to reveal your will to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.” Lk 2:29-32.
The Christian year always begins with Advent. It is a time spent waiting for Jesus to come – a time spent in prayer, reading of scripture and reflection. Christmas is celebrated with the birth of a baby – God’s gift to the world. Our wait is over, the baby has arrived, and we can celebrate! In our scripture reading, we see that Simeon had been waiting formost of his life for this event. We are told he was a “good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved.” He had trusted God and believed that he would not die before seeing God’s promise fulfilled.
A week after Jesus’ birth, when his parents took him to the Temple to be circumcised as the Law required, the Holy Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. There, Simeon’s long wait was finally over, God had fulfilled his promise. Simeon may have muttered under his breath “At last!” as God had appeared silent for centuries, yet at no time had Simeon faltered in his beliefs.
It’s easy, when the tinsel, tree, baubles and fairy lights are packed away for another year, to forget God’s promise. Children singing “Away in a Manger” is a delight to hear, yet how often is the idea that God came into the world to save the world, packed away along with the tinsel and tree on Boxing Day. A baby was born in a manger, yet the world did not and does not still, recognise him as the Saviour of the world! He becomes merely a Christmas table decoration to be packed away until brought out, dusted down and displayed the following year.
Simeon knew God had a plan for his whole world. Jesus’ birth was no accident, it had been foretold centuries before and enables those who believe in him, to form a close relationship with him. As we head into a New Year, do not pack Jesus away with all the other Christmas decorations. Take a bold step and enter into a warm, loving relationship with God, through Jesus.
Happy New Year!
Lord Jesus Christ, you were born so that you might die. You took on our humanity so that you might experience also our mortality. Only through identifying yourself so totally with us could you bridge the gap that separates us from God. You showed us the way of love, and you followed it through to the end. You proclaimed forgiveness, and you paid the price to make it possible. In life and in death, you testified to the grace of the Father, and his purpose for all the world. Help us, as we celebrate again your birth, never to forget that this was just the beginning of the story. As we greet you now as the child of Bethlehem, so let us greet you also as the crucified Saviour and the risen Lord. Amen.
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