Luke 2:21, 22-40
Peace be with you!
Holidays are those times of the year where schedules are just a bit more hectic. We spend the whole month of December visiting and exchanging gifts with friends and family. It is splendid time. However, in the midst of all the holiday cheer, there always seems to be a few moments where you get a dose of reality: a friend or family member passes away, others are laid off from their jobs, or it is your first Christmas without a loved one. There are also those moments where two or more individuals who do not get along have to be in the same building. In my family, these individuals are my mom and her brother. If there is argument to be had, they do. In those moments, you are reminded that the cycle of life is still going on.
You say to yourself, “It is Christmas, for goodness sake. Why does [whatever “it” is] have to happen now? Why can’t we enjoy the season without the despair and without arguments?” My moment occurred when I felt ill and had to sleep all day. Although I enjoy my sleep, I had two people over to help me unpack and organize my new house. In my eyes, the day was wasted on being sick. Luckily, my two friends were able to continue unpacking and organizing without my help: a blessing in the despair.
Here we are, the Sunday after Christmas. Jesus Christ, Mary’s and Joseph’s son and the Son of God, has been born, and it is eight days after his birth. According to the Jewish law, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to be circumcised. To their best abilities, Mary and Joseph teach Jesus the Jewish ways.
Circumcision is an important event, particularly for a first-born son, since he is set aside as holy to the Lord. The symbolism here is important since Jesus is also God’s holy first-born Son. Mary and Joseph may not have known the true importance of Jesus being circumcised, but it sets the stage for his ministry.
A man named Simeon was in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be circumcised. Simeon was looking forward to the redemption of Israel, which the Lord had promised to the Israelites. The Holy Spirit rested on Simeon and revealed that he would see the Messiah before dying (Luke 2:25-26). When Simeon sees Jesus being circumcised in the temple, he is overwhelmed with joy as he recognizes Jesus as the Messiah who is destined for the falling and raising of many Israelites (Luke 2:34). Jesus will redeem those who turn their backs to the Devil and will serve the Lord.
Simeon in his old age sings the song of death to praise the Lord for allowing him to meet the Messiah before dying and for allowing him to see the redemption of Israel. He can die in peace knowing his friends and family will be redeemed in the name of the Lord. It seems odd for Simeon to praise the Lord through the song of death, but Simeon is okay with dying now that he has seen how the Lord will redeem Israel through the Messiah eight-day-old Baby Jesus. The redemption of Israel is being set into action, and although Simeon will not be there to see it accomplished, he can die happy, knowing it will happen as the Lord has promised.
It is a well-known fact among those who work with the dying that some individuals hang on through the holidays to say final goodbyes to family members who live far away. This gift of closure gives the family members a chance to make peace with the loved one. Of course, this makes the holiday season hard for the surviving family members who live with shadow of their loved one’s passing as each new anniversary rolls around.
However, family members should rest assured their loved one has been saved and redeemed by the Savior Simeon celebrated so long ago. We celebrate Jesus’ birth as a way to remind us the joy Simeon had in recognizing what was to come and what is to come.
We owe God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son on-going praise as they continue to offer us redemption and grace all the days of our lives. We should think of redemption as something that has happened in the past. We should also think of it as an ongoing thing; the world continues to be redeemed by the Lord. We are redeemed and given grace on a daily basis.
As we bury loved ones in the coming months—or as we mourn the loss of those we love who are long in the ground, let us lift their memories to the Lord and trust that he will redeem them as his children.
Although Simeon’s song of death seems out of place during the Christmas season, it reminds us of the joy found in redemption and grace through the Messiah. This reassurance in God’s on-going redemption and grace gives us the peace of mind, knowing the Lord will always redeem us as his children.
Come, O Lord, come.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for continuing to redeem us as your children. Help us to understand that redemption is an on-going experience. Remind us as we bury loved ones that you redeem them as your children. Thank you for giving us grace through your Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How do Simeon’s words of God caring for departed love ones bring you assurance?
2. How do you experience on-going redemption and grace?
3. How do you express joy and thanksgiving in recognizing Jesus as the Messiah?