Simeon and the Child

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Presentation of Our Lord A

February 2, 2014

Luke 2:22-40

 

Tradition says that Simeon was an old man,

​(which for that day and age meant that he was at least…40!)

​​Faithful, consistent, and prayerful old Simeon.

 

Simeon didn’t have many prayers;

​he had only one prayer in fact.

​​His one prayer was that Israel would be restored;

​​​that God’s deliverer the messiah would come.

 

Simeon’s name means “he has heard”

​and God heard his prayer.

God promised Simeon

​that he would not die until he saw the Christ.

That promise was a number of years ago.

​And yet still day after day, Simeon watched for it;

​​he listened for the promise to be fulfilled.

 

Simeon never gave up hope;

​he never gave up trusting that God would keep that promise.

 

One day, Simeon prayed his one prayer,

​and he heard the Spirit leading him once again.

​​

Think about it….Simeon had been praying day after day this one prayer,

​and now this day he hears that he is about to receive  an answer!

​​He rushes to the temple courts,

​​​not really sure what he is looking for.

 

The court is filled with people.

​There are men and women;

​​rabbis in their elaborate robes;

​​​soldiers from Rome keeping order;

​​​​and always the tax collectors sitting at their tables,

​​​​​counting the money.

 

Some are selling animals for the offering,

​others are buying them.

​​There are sheep, goats, doves, and mules,

​​​bleating and braying, not sure exactly what’s happening

.

 

Simeon looks around,

​looking for the messiah, the deliverer of Israel!

But to his surprise, there doesn’t seem to be anything out of place in the courtyard.

 

Surely the messiah – the one who was to come like a refiner’s fire

​would make a rather impressive entrance?!

​​Simeon’s eyes scan the crowd for signs of greatness…

​​​and then he sees…

 

He sees an markedly unimpressive young couple,

​carrying their offering … not the usual offering of a lamb –

​​they do not have the means for that –

​​​but an offering of two doves.

 

Simeon is less interested in their offering, however,

​but in what else they are carrying in their arms.

​​It is a baby, still wrapped in his swaddling clothes.

​​​The baby is barely six weeks old,

​​​​just learning how to smile.

With tears streaming down his face,

​old Simeon takes the tiny infant from his mother’s arms,

​​cradles him in his own,

​​​and with joy and wonder says,

​​​​”Now I can die in peace.”

 

“Now I can die in peace,

​for here – here in my very arms,

​​in this child, I hold the promise of life God gives to all people.

​​​He is here.

​​​He is finally here!”

 

I don’t think it’s hard for any of us,

​to imagine the hope and joy that Simeon felt

​​as he lifted the child.

 

We get a glimpse of God’s promise of life when we hold any child.

​Especially as we get older, when we hold a child,

​​our lives become less and less about us and more about them.

 

We separate our trash and compost and recycle

​not because it’s particularly enjoyable for us or will makeour world better,

​​but because it will make theirs.

 

We teach Sunday School or help with Confirmation or youth group

​not because we have a whole lot of extra time to fill,

​​but because we want future generations to know and share the values Jesus did.

 

We wonder about what to do about gun violence,

​less because we worry about our own safety,

​​but more because we worry about the safety of children

​​​in schools and malls and movie theaters …and in refugee camps and the streets of faraway places riddled with conflict.

 

When we hold a child, like Simeon, we hold in our arms the promise of life

​God gives to all people revealed through Jesus.

 

Every year, the Children’s Defense Fund, publishes a report

​ on the state of children in America.

​​ It answers the question, if you will

​​​”So how are we doing with God’s promise entrusted to our arms?”

 

According to the State of America’s children 2014 report,

​child poverty has reached record levels,

​​disproportionately affecting children of color;

​​​income inequality has increased dramatically,

​​​​and a child is killed or injured by a gun every 30 minutes.

​​​​​So maybe – we aren’t doing so well.

 

Maybe we need to hold more children in our arms like Simeon.

​Maybe we need see them smiling, smell their breathing, feel their soft baby skin,

​​and maybe then we will see no less than the promise of God in them too.

​If only we could see Jesus ourselves;

​​If only we could touch Jesus ourselves – like Simeon –

​​​then surely we would be confident that God’s will would be done for all children!

 

Well…as a matter of fact.. we do…

3very time we come to this table.

 

This afternoon, we will begin First Communion classes here at Good Shepherd.

​We have the potential of 18 children!

I think that’s pretty amazing!

 

What we’ll be talking about in these classes is that

​Each time we come to this meal of communion,

​​We meet Jesus; we touch Jesus; we taste Jesus.

​​​We hold Jesus in our arms – much like Simeon did long ago.

 

When Simeon held the infant Jesus,

​he knew he had held just enough – he had held God and could depart in peace,

​​knowing that God’s promise had been fulfilled.

 

After receiving this promise from God in the bread and wine,

​we are moved to confident and courageous lives,

​​even in a world too often marked by death and loss.

 

We leave the table having had just a taste of bread and wine, but it is enough

​For us to sing with Simeon..

 

Now let your servant depart in peace,

​for your word has been fulfilled.

 

Amen.

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