I had the privilege of telling my son the full story of the birth of Christ for the first time this Christmas. At three years old, he's beginning to understand a bit more about Christmas and what it is about. How encouraging it is to hear "Christmas is Jesus' birthday" when asked the question "What's Christmas about?". (Of course he still wonders where the birthday cake is...)
I had been reading to him from the gospel of Luke this past Christmas. I like this particular account of the gospel because Luke provides a very colourful narrative of the nativity events - it is a storytelling gospel.
I am never ceased to be amazed how I manage to pick up something new every time I reread an account of the gospel. This particular time, I was really struck by the character of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35. It says:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:Can you imagine this old fellow waiting all of his life for the yet unseen Messiah... and then suddenly meeting him? Wouldn't that be an enormously moving moment? Simeon knew that the Lord was God and what God said would come to pass was truth - and that it would happen in his lifetime. That is faith. Then I think of how so often I, (or we collectively!) are so caught up with our lives that we miss out on times when God might be telling us what He is going to do. We miss out on experiencing God. What's even more - we have the benefit of hindsight and knowing the Messiah (Jesus!) and yet we still so often choose to ignore Him.
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
I want a faith like Simeon's. I want to know Jesus not only in my mind, but also in my heart. I want to recognize who He is, and I want to worship Him. He is, afterall, the long awaited Messiah. He is Emmanuel; He is God with us.