“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke 2:29-30 NIV)
The stories recently in the media about the shoppers in parts of the United States going out at midnight to do their Christmas shopping, only to be disappointed because the parking lots were already full, and about the women who drove on to another mall to wait in line until it opened at 6:00 a.m., sustained by coffee supplied by the merchants outside, led me to reflect a little more seriously about what the season of waiting that we call Advent is all about.
Even if we avoid the worst excesses of frenzied nocturnal shopping expeditions, the month of December, at least the twenty-four days leading up to Christmas, often represent a marathon. There are too many things to do, and we rush, and we rush, and then we wonder why Christmas isn’t what it used to be.
The story of Simeon provides us with a healthy and necessary correction. The problem is that we don’t usually read it until after Christmas, because the story of Simeon is about his greeting the baby when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple after Mary’s recovery from the birth. We need, however, to read the story of Simeon (found in Luke 2:25-35) before the Christmas rush, if we are to grasp fully the peace present which God wants to give us.
Simeon, led by and filled with the Holy Spirit, has his heart set on one thing: to see the promised Messiah, the Saviour of both Jew and Gentile. He is waiting in the temple, with his eyes fixed on the unseen God, Whom he knows and addresses as the Sovereign Lord, the One Who, in spite of all claims to the contrary, is in charge and control of the peoples and the nations. He takes God at His word, fully believing the promise that God will cause a child to rise and a light to shine Who will transform the world.
His own personal needs and interests all fade away. He has no fear even of his own approaching death. He is content to be able to gaze upon the Son of the living God, for he knows that if God lives, and lives among and for His people, he need not fear, for all is well.
Would to God that we should each possess the faith of Simeon. If we see that in keeping Christmas, we are called to focus and centre ourselves upon Jesus, and Jesus alone, and if we are content to rest our eyes upon Christ, Who is born to save us, we will be saved from the mad rush into which the world wants to draw us. Much of what crowds our stores will lose its appeal, and we will, without any sense of loss, be able to lay aside much of what crowds our schedule and so often exhausts us.
Prayer – Lord, thank You that Your servant Simeon possessed the gift of peace. Thank You that You want us to possess that gift too, and to share it. Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, and to rest, and to share peace in these days. Amen.
James T. Hurd
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from the PresbyCan Daily Devotional with the author’s permission