Monday, December 17, 2012

Simeon's Hope

I am guessing many of you read or hear Luke 2 at some point over the Christmas season.  My dad read this to me (wearing his festive red robe as we always demanded) as a little girl as I waited on the stairs leading downstairs, eager to open my presents. 

This past weekend, we read Luke 2 with the boys and Meade’s parents who came to visit and celebrate Christmas early with us.  We had a great time, and Meade and I even successfully roasted a turkey for our “Christmas” dinner.  And a first for me: we had leftovers the rest of the weekend!  The blessing of coming from a big family is that we always went to both my mom’s and dad’s sides for every holiday for TWO feasts.  But, the leftovers remained with the respective grandparents.  So this weekend was a unique treat on many levels.

The Bird
Gifts worth the wait
The boys love their Maddie and Poppy
As we were reading Luke 2, we continued past verse 20.  Following the typically-read Christmas story, Jesus is presented by his parents at the temple in Jerusalem.  Enter Simeon:

        “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. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 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, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles 
and for glory to your people Israel’”  (Luke 2:25-32).

Of course, it is an understatement to say how amazing all of Luke 2 is; but as we read the above passage on Saturday, I couldn’t help but think how profound Simeon’s story is.  Here is a man who has waited on a promise his entire life.  A man who trusted God was faithful and true.  A man who didn’t doubt but simply knew he would witness the coming of the Messiah with his own eyes before he died.  This phrase deeply touches me: “He [Simeon] was waiting for the consolation of Israel.”  Consolation means “comfort” or can even be a noun for the Person who brings comfort and resolve.  The Person who restores and makes our hope founded.

Simeon was waiting for comfort.  Waiting with assurance.  Longing for wrongs to be made right.  Was Simeon shocked to find a baby at the temple that day?  It certainly doesn’t appear that way.  He simply took Jesus in his arms and began praising the Lord.  Simeon quite literally “saw the light” (see the passage’s last sentence). 

As I wrote about earlier this month, the Advent season is about waiting.  Waiting upon the Lord, the true waiting of His saints. 

I don’t know anyone who likes to wait. At the grocery store, we quickly scan the lanes and hope we selected the fastest one.  We count down the days until a package arrives… or a promotion… or a business deal.  It’s a strong verb, but I hate waiting on John’s full healing.  And so often as we wait, time seems to move backward, adding more heaviness to our hearts rather than revealing the progress we’d like to see.  Another school shooting?  This one bigger than so many in the past?  How can this be?  How do we wait for comfort?  Wait for all made new?  Wait when things seem to get worse rather than better?  

I don’t have the answers in or for this broken world.  But Advent waiting, this holy waiting, is proper and right.  It is right to wait with hope, with assurance, upon the One who brings comfort.  The One who brings peace.  The One who showed up and came to Simeon, as was revealed to him  before it became reality.  Simeon’s story brings tears to my eyes.  It is so pure, so beautiful.  Even in an imperfect world and despite all the odds, he did not waiver in his belief.  And his reward: beholding, even while holding, that Great Light, the Savior of the world.


"'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. 
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, 
for the old order of things has passed away.'
He who was seated on the throne said, 
'I am making everything new!' 
Then he said, 'Write this down, 
for these words are trustworthy and true.'"
-Revelation 21:4-5

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