St. Luke 2:22-40 – Christmas 1 (2012)
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
December 30, 2012
Merry Christmas! In the name of Jesus. Amen. It’s still a Merry Christmas! Tell me again, I could use it. Merry Christmas!
Christmas isn’t one day. It’s not even two days. It’s twelve days. You know.. On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..
We think of the celebration of Christmas as before Christmas, it’s actually after the Feast. The twelve days of Christmas extend all the way to Epiphany, January 6. Today being the the fifth/sixth day of Christmas. So that means get your golden rings/geese a laying on!
At my house, I tried a few years ago to institute presents every day of the Christmas season! Great idea, don’t you think? The boys were on board until I said that we would be dividing up our presents through the whole season and not opening them all on Christmas Day. Well, suddenly there was a revolt!
Personally, if given the chance, I’ll leave gifts under the tree and open them later in the season. I just like to wait and enjoy the moment just a little bit longer…
Pious Simeon too! He waited more than a bit to open His Christmas present! You see, Simeon had been waiting His whole life. Like the Patriarchs had been waited. Like the children of Israel had been waited. Like Kings and the Prophets had waited.
They were waiting not for a stocking stuffer or even a big gift like a coat or an iPad. They all waited on the Lord to fulfill His promise to redeem Israel and to save His people from their sins.
They were all waiting for the gift. The big one: the Christ.
For Christ has come. In the manger Christmas to save His people, to save you and me. To rescue us from sin, from death, and the power of the devil. Not with gold or silver, but with His holy life and innocent suffering and death.
All of the Old Testament waited. They all looked forward, believed that God would send the Savior and that they would have a Merry Christmas.
Simeon, in his body, symbolized this Christmas hope and expectation. The Lord told him that He wouldn’t die until He saw the the Christ. So he was staying up just a little longer to see this gift. Like a kid waiting for Santa, Simeon was good and tired and had been up for way too long.
And so the gift came, in a child born of Mary. Baby Jesus shows up in Jerusalem in the temple. Indistinguishable from every other baby that was brought up for the time of purification. His family so common and so poor that they couldn’t even afford a lamb as the sacrifice, only two turtle doves.
Then, Simeon saw Him. The Promised One. The Christmas Present! The shoot out of the dead stump of Jesse. David’s Son – The One whose reign will be in the fear of the Lord. The Christ. The Messiah.
And he scooped Him up and held him in His arms and began to sing. For he held salvation in His hands. Light and life and the glory of God’s people is in This Child. Heaven for the children of Israel. Eternal life for Gentiles even you and me.
This child will save us all by being despised and rejected by men. He’ll redeem you by the sword that will pierce Mary’s soul – the Cross.
For Christ is born to live as you should live – fulfilling the Law right down to the time of purification. Christ is born to be the sacrifice that makes you acceptable to God.
No more turtle doves or sheep. Purification before God comes only from Jesus’ pure and holy life and His sufferings and death on Good Friday.
Simeon knew that all of this would be fulfilled and that you and me and all who believe in the Name of the Child born of Mary would be saved.
“Let me depart in peace, Lord. Let me go to you. Your Word has been fulfilled.” Salvation for you. Salvation for me! Even Simeon who was ready to go. How could He not be?! He had received Jesus.
We receive Jesus every week – in the Word, in the Absolution, in the Lord’s Supper. Into our mouth goes the Body and Blood of Christ. We are closer to Him than Simeon ever could be! Closer than holding Him in our arms.
Yet, we often times do we leave this communion rail not even considering the weight, the gift, the gravity of what has gone into us. That into our mouthes goes the very Body and Blood of Christ. Forgiveness and life eternal on our tongue.
Dear Saints, let the forgiveness given to you at the Sacrament cleanse your world of all that was in it against others. Give it up. Set all of it aside. Love one another. You are forgiven. They are forgiven too.
Then, leave here having received the Christmas gift of salvation. Ready for whatever happens in your world – successes, failure, money, poverty, sickness, cancer, even death itself.
For no matter what else happens in this world, no matter what happens this weekend for you or for your family, this is true:
Christ has come to you. Your salvation has come with Him. His Word, His promise, of life eternal is certain and true. You’ve heard it and today you’ve tasted it.
It is still Christmas and there is still gifts to unpack and open. And if we pay attention to Simeon’s song, every Sunday is Christmas for every Sunday Christ comes to us to gift us again with Salvation.
But since it is still the Christmas Season, leave wishing folks that you meet a Merry Christmas all the way until Epiphany. Put the baby Jesus before their eyes even into January with your Christmas greeting.
That’s one of my favorite late Christmas gifts to open. There’s nothing more funny than to watch the funny look on people’s faces on January 5th when I wish them a Merry Christmas! You too… for me! Wish them and each other a Merry Christmas!
But.. enough talking.. let’s get to the present on the altar. From Jesus to you – His Body and Blood given for you on the Cross. Raised from the dead and delivered into your mouth so that you leave here ready for anything that comes your way.
Merry Christmas! One more time.. I could use it. Merry Christmas! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.