Advent Reflection Dec 22
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “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.”
There is a lot here to notice. First, to those who know the law of Moses, Luke points out that the parents of Jesus were poor. In Leviticus 12, the correct offering is a lamb AND a pigeon or turtledove, but it says that if the parents are poor, two birds will do. Luke makes this observation without comment. But the humble origins of the Christ are clear. Simeon’s words point forward to the often overlooked mission of Christ. Long ago God had promised that the seed of Abraham would bless all nations. Simeon recognizes that this baby was a a light to the nations (the meaning of the word “gentiles.” How is Jesus a light to you?
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
What a burden for the mother of this child to bear. A sword will pierce your own soul. To know that her baby would grow until the time was right for his brutal murder. And because of him the secrets of many hearts would be revealed. What are the secrets of your heart this Christmas? How does Jesus call you to live a more “wholehearted” life?
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The redemption of Jerusalem. This is something longed for since before the time of Daniel. For several hundred years the people had groaned for deliverance. This child was the one to purchase back all that had been lost. What is lost to you? In your story, what do you consider loss? What are your groanings? Cry out to Emmanuel this Christmas.