I Have Seen!
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
I pray for you this, on this third day of Christmas. That you would know the awe, the joy, the wonder on the 8th day of Christmas, that Simeon and Anna knew… and that you would never forget this joy of seeing God’s salvation for all people!
How tired, how weary, and this strange man
It was a cold day when they woke up, and Joseph packed up all they had. We think he had a donkey, but who can be sure? We do know that they were among the poorest of the poor, so it is possible they had to carry all they had.
Even so, the mother of the Messiah, seven days after giving birth picked him up, and with her husband set out on a six to seven-mile hike. A hike that would climb 2000 feet in elevation, as they went through olive groves and past military outposts.
Al, how many of us could walk from here to your house? That would be a little farther, but not as strenuous of a climb! Seven days after giving birth. They were still weary from the long trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Deacon Bob asked a question in our preparation that I couldn’t answer. Would it be easier for Mary to hike that distance, or ride a donkey, considering she just gave birth. I have no idea…..neither sounds like an easy trip!
They had no choice to take either journey. The first was mandated by the laws of men. The journey on this day mandated by the laws of God.
The good thing was that they were in Bethlehem, and not Jericho.
As they finally climb the temple mount, weary and tired from the three to four-hour journey, a very old man wanders over to them, with a huge smile, mumbling praise God! Praise God! He looks down at Jesus and gently takes Him from Mary, crying out to someone(?), I see! I see!
I wonder what they thought when he broke into song????
How would you feel, if you someone handed to you Jesus, the Messiah?
What would it be like to hold Jesus, the one who would die for your sin? Not sure of that perhaps, but knowing the hope for all humanity was there… in your hands?
That is what Simeon experienced…
How tired and weary are we?
Do we manage the things God desires?
What if Mary and Joseph didn’t?
The apostle Paul once wrote,
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:9-10 (NLT)
Somehow, Mary and Joseph found the strength to make it to Jerusalem, to have Jesus circumcised, to offer the sacrifices that it took, for Him to be considered righteous. I mean, what would have happened if they had said – well the roads will be too rough, Mary needs another week in bed, we can go to the temple any time? Or the temple opens too early, or tool late, or we don’t like the long lines. I could even imagine Joseph saying, Mary, if you don’t stop trying to give me directions we are just going to head home! If they didn’t complete the journey, if the offerings and circumcision hadn’t happened, then he would not be righteous, and he couldn’t have died for us.
My friends weariness is not a valid reason for you or I to sin. To fail to do the good that God commissioned fro us to do. To say a mean word because we are tired and irritable is as much a sin as the lies and gossip we know are forbidden. Failing to help someone because they drain what energy we have left is just like stealing from them, or even murdering them. Sin is sin, whether we feel like we are Abraham’s age, or William’s.
That’s why Paul encourages us not to grow weary, not to stop doing what God has prepared for us.
it’s hard you say. I agree.
But so was a virgin and her husband, who had given birth a week before – making the trek to the temple.
I have seen!
As they come to the temple, they meet two people have known weariness. They have spent their lives in prayer, and in ministering to others. We hear of their devotion, their faithfulness, their righteousness, Both are guided by the Holy Spirit, even as we are. And despite their age, they serve God with willingness and great desire. And both are older, much older.
Simeon, the one guided by the Holy Spirit that day, who was told that this baby, this newborn, was the one who would make us born again.
He had seen it, what he had been waiting for all of His life, why he spent that life eagerly awaiting for the Messiah to appear. So assured by the Holy Spirit that all he had to see was the baby, to hold him.
The nunc dimitis. Our completion, there in his hands.
This baby would reveal God to every nation, it was the reason God had chosen this small nation of Israel and protected and guided it. This child who would be a great joy to many, the One, who would reveal all our deepest thoughts, and cleanse us anyway.
As God had promised, our salvation revealed!
Our salvation, there in Simeon’s hands.
The other person, whose weariness would fade was a 84-year-old woman who had spent 64 years waiting for that day. For sixty-four years and more, she would fast and pray, that God would save His people. As Simeon noted, not just Israel, but all of His people. And so He did! She told everyone there, everyone who was waiting for the Messiah.
He’s here! Simeon is holding Him!
How much the weariness would disappear from their old bones. How much the joy of knowing God had kept His promise.
As we gather at the rail this morning, as we are given the Body and Blood of Christ, Take a moment…and think about what you have been given. For we too see our salvation, we see God revealed to us, we are brought into His glory.
Find the peace that chases away the weariness, the love which embraces you, the joy of Christ’s gathering us to Himself…and sharing Himself with us.
And rejoice, for He is with you!
Shadows Cast on the Manger
† IHS †
May you know the awe of the shepherds as you realize your salvation is near!
On us a light has shined…
I am trying to imagine what it must have been like, during the dark hours when the angels appeared. When Isaiah’s prophecy we heard tonight, a moment that would change the world, and change us.
Isaiah tells us the in our greatest darkness a light has shined, and for the shepherds, there at the stable, the glory was unbelievable, a moment that would never be forgotten. The time was now, Christ was here.
As they rush to Bethlehem, as they look into the stable, were the shadows cast over the Baby there in the manger? As the stars shone done upon the very glory of God, was there enough starlight to see the glory they had been told about?
As I stand here, as you will come up to this place, and stand before this altar, what shadows will be cast, and will they obscure the glory of God with us? For each of us this night cast a shadow, but will we find ourselves free of them, as Christ is revealed? Till we realize the only shadow that would remain, and that now… it too has gone.
The shadows cast…until we kneel in adoration
The shadows I am talking about, symbolize those things in our lives that can turn these days into something less than a joyous party. Maybe it is that we are missing someone. Maybe it is the stress over relationships that are broken, anxieties over health, or finances, or just our own sin. Or maybe, it’s that I am so busy trying to get all the ministry done, that I forget to be amazed at the love of God, that is revealed to us!
Shadows darken the room, they threaten cause us fear, they would cause us to not see the babe in the manger, or understand that this great light that has come, has come to be an end to the shadows, and end to the darkness.
The challenge is seeing past the shadows, seeing the brilliant glory of this child, this baby laying in a manger. It looks so peaceful and serene, the shadows so ominous, so threatening.
We need to see Jesus more clearly, we need to understand that He is here for us.
We need to understand this scene is about God coming into our world, into our darkness, invading it. That this babe we sing about in Mary’s lap, and artist would eventually render like this. (slide of crucified Jesus.)
I am not sure she ever held him like that, but the picture is clear… there is one shadow over him, that would not be taken away. The shadow of the cross.
But that shadow is glorious – for it leads to the resurrection and reveals a glory of God that is only hinted about here. The salvation promised by the angels, the salvation that God had planned for, even before Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, and creation fell.
The One shadow remains…
Often we see the pictures of the manger with Mary and Joseph, with an Angel above the roof juncture of the barn, of the shepherds, and the kings moving to bow before Christ, to worship Him, to adore Him.
They are falling to their knees, and the shadows they cast are no longer long, the shadows no longer cover His face. They know the moment is special, just as when we kneel here, before His altar, before His Throne, but struggle with what it means that Jesus the Christ is here… with us…
Until we remember that the Babe in the manger is the Lord who gives us His body and blood, broken and shed for our sakes. Broken and shed because as we realize that love, His glory shines, not just from heaven, but into our lives, into our hearts.
For there, as we dwell in His presence, the shadows cease.. the cross becomes not a shadow, but a glorious message of love – a love that overcomes the darkness….
For unto us a child is born…unto us He is given,
and unto a light – His glory is shining…
So come and kneel, not because of the porcelain baby, but because here, you will know the depth of His love, as your shadows are loosened and left behind, as you are fill with His mercy and peace, as we are reminded why Christmas is here.. to prove to us that the Lord is with you – and that He loves you!