Presentation of Our Lord A
February 2, 2014
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.
For us to sing with Simeon..
Now let your servant depart in peace,
for your word has been fulfilled.