But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
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 firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated 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; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Return to Nazareth
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
The reactions of both Simeon and Anna to the Christ child, Jesus, are amazing.
We are not told by what means God has revealed the truth of Jesus to them, and yet God has; they know, and their joy gives witness to the strength of their conviction.
Have you heard God speak to you before?
Would you like to share in such joyful conviction as among those who hear and witness the great promises of God?
I certainly would!
And yet what has become more and more plain to me, is that this requires a fortitude of spirit.
Here Simeon has received a promise – not to taste death, until he has seen the Lord’s Messiah – and yet we do not know how long he lived with his promise, watching and waiting, praying and seeking…
Here we have Anna. She was married to a man who died after only seven years of matrimony, and ever since, she dwells in the temple night and day, fervent in prayer. She is now eighty-four. How long has she been crying out?
And these two prophets are not alone, for the Psalms are littered with the faithful doubt of the saints: “How long, O Lord?! …yet even still I will praise you.”
The Biblical author Habakkuk starts out his whole book this way, and through-out, we are given no consolation, no resolution, other than Habakkuk’s sheer will to persevere in trust and praise. Though we do not know that he sees the fulfillment of God’s promises in his lifetime, he chooses to rest in confidence, in our God.
So what will be written of you or of I?
What is the arc of your life?
Do our lives witness to faith, even amid long-suffering, waiting, longing, praying?
Do our lives rather illustrate the ravages of fear?
For you see, BEFORE any of this came to pass,
Before the star,
Before the Messiah’s birth,
Before the fullness of time…was the waiting.
And each of us has our own way of waiting.
Can you see the gifts beneath the tree and take delight in the almost/not-yet?
Can you witness a moment of great love, contrasting more frequent moments of impatience and complaining, and yet still greet yourself in the mirror each morning with compassion at your beautiful/not-yet?
Can we witness the evils and injustices of our society and persevere in prayer, in crying out?
Can we HOPE when everything around us mocks that spark?
We each wait differently.
But for those who persevere
who hope beyond hope,
who “garden in the dark,” as one holocaust survivor spoke of
we await sweetest joy,
Emmanuel – Christ, come among us!
Dearest brothers and sisters in this journey,
If we treated God with the impatience we show ourselves and one another,
we would have long said, “You’re fired!” For God does not operate on our timing.
God waited – that all might be saved – for the fullness of time.
Many a faithful follower cried out for this very Messiah!
Generation after generation fervently prayed for that which their human eyes would never see.
And all of creation, scripture tells us, groans for Christ’s coming!
You are not alone. You are not alone.
Be comforted knowing that in God’s timing, we have been adopted into the family of God – not as servants or as slaves but as children, heirs of God’s very promises!!!
Do you believe?
Will you receive it?
live in the already/not-yet
of our adoption into the family of God
…watching and waiting and praying for the fulfillment of all God’s promises to us,
God’s Kingdom come, God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?
O God of the high heavens,
O Christ of the deep earth,
O Spirit of the flowing waters,
O Trinity of love,
You have offered your love to us,
And here we pledge our love to you.
Strengthen us in our desire,
And breathe into our bodies the passion of your love.
We pray this in the name of Jesus,
To whom we commit ourselves.