"For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples"
New parents have a lot of anxiety bringing children into the world.
There is no shortness of wonder when mothers and fathers look into the eyes of an infant and ask themselves: “What will become of this child?” That is a question that can be full of awesome promise or one that can be fearfully posed. Did Joseph and Mary feel one way or the other about their newborn baby, just eight days old when he was brought to the temple for the traditional Jewish ritual of purification and circumcision?
Despite the many promises they already heard about their special child, the world Jesus was born into was hostile to his own destiny. Matthew’s gospel tells us how Herod was so threatened by the news of Jesus’ birth that he sought to kill him. Mary and Joseph had to flee for a time to Egypt to escape such persecution. Jesus destiny for greatness would not come without great cost.
So Mary and Joseph probably had a lot on their minds when they came in contact with Simeon and Anna that day at the temple. Simeon was first to meet Jesus and his family. He had been waiting for many years for what the Holy Spirit had promised – to see the promised Savior – salvation in the face of a baby barely one week old.
In Jesus, Simeon saw light – a light that would be offered as the fulfillment of God’s promise to all the nations, all the peoples of the world. A light that would draw people to God as never before. Anna, a prophetess of the Temple saw Jesus that day as well and Luke tells us that she praised God and spoke to all about the redemption for Israel she saw in the face of Jesus.
Simeon’s joyful prophecy was mixed with his understanding of how dangerous God’s redemption plan would be for Jesus. He knew that the breaking in of God into the world would cause the powerful to feel threatened, and opposition would rise up against what God was doing in the world through Jesus. Simeon knew that a mother’s worst fears would be realized, but the light of Jesus would never be dimmed for all eternity.
We live in this time of light mixed with darkness – but with the promise that God’s redemption plan is still at work for the world. And we also live in the reality that this work remains incomplete and that injustice and suffering remain and overwhelm us. But like Simeon and Anna, we have the joy of seeing the light in the face of a newborn baby and live knowing that God will have the last word, that God’s light will overcome the world’s darkness and that we can live in peace in the confidence that we have seen God’s salvation in Jesus.
What happened to you this Christmas when you heard the good news – Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem?
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.