As I sit here pondering what to write for this week’s meditation for preparation, I must confess my mind is going in a million different directions. I’m thinking about groceries, presents, and work (because that is where I am currently located). I am thinking about our upcoming trip to Georgia and all the tasks that need to be done to get our family of five into the car and down the road. I am thinking about how our cat loves to climb into the pile of presents just so he can be under the tree and wondering how many presents will be torn up before being opened. Yet, in all this you know what I am not thinking about?
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32)
Simeon spoke these words as he took the baby into his arms. This man, described as righteous and devout with the Holy Spirit upon him, blessed Mary and Joseph. In the noisiness of the temple as these new parents are trying to make the sacrifices required by law, they are stopped. They are forced to slow down and hear these words spoken to them.
Simeon wasn’t just saying something that sounded nice. He was putting scriptures together to express what he was witnessing.
He was pointing to the covenant with Abram:
“As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.” Gen. 15:15
He was quoting Isaiah 52:10:
“and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
Simeon knew he was seeing God’s words from Psalm 98:2 unfold before him:
“The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.”
We hear echoes of Isaiah 42:6:
“I am the Lord…I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.”
And Isaiah 49:6:
“I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of figuring out parenthood and fulfilling the requirements of the law, they could have just lowered their heads and gotten the to-do list done. Instead, they were stopped. Simeon spoke scripture over them. He spoke blessing over them. They watched as this man praised God for the promise of His salvation through His son.
This man who had now seen God’s promise come into the temple as a babe was ready to leave the earth happy. He must have shone with the joy of understanding God’s great love to His people. God had come. His Word was being fulfilled. His Son was here to save the world and be a light to all nations. That was a joy worth sharing, worth praising, and worth taking time to tell others.
What a blessing Mary and Joseph would have missed if they had not been stopped by this man of God who spoke the words of scripture over them and blessed them.
The noise of the temple was very different from the noise this time of year holds for us; however, the need is the same. We need to be stopped in our tracks and blessed by the hearing of God’s word. What are we missing out on because we won’t slow down long enough to be blessed? We allow our busyness and our hurry to scatter our minds in a million different directions when, in reality, we need them to go in only one direction: praising God. Praise Him for His salvation. Praise Him for keeping His promises. Praise Him for coming to dwell with us. Praise Him for being a light in this dark world. Praise Him for sending people in our lives that love us enough to use His words to encourage our weary hearts.
During this Christmas season and beyond may we learn from these four that were in the temple that day. May we be Simeon by being ready to bless someone and shout praises to God. May we be Mary and Joseph by slowing down to hear the truth of God’s Word. May we be the light of Christ to this world by inviting Him into all parts of our lives to teach us His word and His love, so we will be ready to share that love with others.