It is said that our God is an “on time” God….making it hugely ironic that he would use a character like me in His story…for I am rarely on time. Time often seems to be not in my favor, pressing, pulling, pushing or creating anxiety for already over-stimulated mind. So when I imagine that God is always “on time” I realize that perhaps sometimes I am white knuckling a time line that perhaps isn’t something I’m fully in control of. What if in this season of waiting…waiting for stores to open, packages to be delivered, cookies to bake, water to boil, family to arrive, lines to dwindle, traffic to move, for Christmas to finally come…we learn to wait with hopeful expectancy on God? What would that look like?
Well, here is what it looked like for 2 elderly servants:
Infant Jesus is circumcised at home at 8 days old, presented in the temple a few weeks later, and Mary also presented for purification after childbirth along with her offering so as to be in accordance with the law and to be presented holy unto the Lord. (as if?)
They offered 2 turtledoves ( but not on the 2nd day of Christmas) because this was the appropriate substitute if you did not have or could not afford a lamb. All families were expected to dedicate their firstborn son to the temple, and the animal served as the sacrifice. You might say that Jesus was dedicated twice, by his earthly father in this scene, and in eternity as the Father gave him to be the savior of the world. Which coincides with the name they give: Jesus. Jesus was just as common a name as Joshua is today. As a matter of fact, they are basically the same name….Yeshua, meaning The Lord Saves.
Simeon: righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him he would not die until he saw the Lord’s anointed.
Guided by the Spirit, the Lord came to the temple (hey, let’s live like that! Guided by the Spirit, Jesus take the wheel!) Simeon was there to meet the infant and his unexpecting parents. This was his blessing:
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 people, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel. 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.”
Anna: 84 years old, widowed for 63 years. Never left the temple, worshiped night and day. She also recognized the infant as Messiah and sang praises to him.
Now, we usually get to their story after Christmas. But if they are present within weeks of his birth….where do you think they are the weeks leading up to his birth? Yes, waiting. And, oh, the waiting! We have no idea their age when God revealed they would see Messiah, but we are given the impression that this has been a lifetime pursuit.
Which leads me to the question, what are you waiting for? Maybe you are legitimately anxious about a package arriving or for a travel schedule to get finalized. Maybe you are waiting to find out if that certain person is coming for Christmas…or not. Maybe you’re just ready for the whole season to be over. Maybe your waiting game is completely unrelated to Christmas. You are waiting for the doctor to call, the job offer to come through, the bank to decide, the child to come home, the spouse to notice….maybe you are waiting for your own mind or body to soul to settle down, heal, wake up. What are you waiting for?
What if I told you that waiting is intrinsically a part of what it means to be human, and that God longs to meet us in the waiting. That perhaps it’s in the waiting that we find God.
I’ve had numerous conversations with people about God surprising them with his timeliness. I will often get the unction to text someone or call someone, just to say “hi how can I pray for you?” And it’s remarkable the number of times that person will say, “how did you know to call me? You have no idea how much it means to me that you would call right now.” No, I don’t know, but I’m glad God does! Once I had a momma text me worried about a doctor’s report and waiting for the phone call from the doctor they had been referred to. She deciced to exercise good faith and instead of worrying she reaching out to people who would pray. I got a text, “please pray…” I texted back a prayer. Later I got a response saying, “Oh you’ll never believe, I read your text and as soon as I said amen the doctor called! Everything is going to be fine.” Or I know about people who could choose to be frustrated by a bungled schedule but instead have experienced a god moment, running into someone in the store or in the parking lot and having a conversation that answered prayer. You know what I’m talking about! What if in our waiting, we could be patient trusting and knowing that God may be on his way?
But here is something else I want to emphasize about this story. Yes, we must learn to wait and wait for God in the waiting. But this story also tells us that we can have a hopeful expectancy that God will show up in our waiting because God is already here.
God is already moving and active in your life. I mean, you’re here! God subject himself to the full human experience, including circumcision so he could be made presentable to…God, just so we could learn to recognize him in our midst. That is the confidence that Simeon and Anna express in their declarations: I can die in peace! The savior is here!
God has sent a deliverer for us.
Our redeemer has come.
Our savior has come.
OUR DELIVERER HAS COME
THE HOPE AND GLORY OF ISRAEL.
BLESSED IS HE.
BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. So, if we believe that God is already here, that he has come to save us, to redeem us, to bring us into relationship with him, then let me ask again…what are you waiting for? Have you surrendered your minutes, your days, your life to his control?
If you haven’t…he is waiting for you. I love this picture of Simeon painted by Ron Dicianni. It’s called Simeon’s Moment. Look at his face, the look of joy mixed with relief. You know this moment.
Because I know that while you are waiting for things today, you’ve also had the moment when the relief came. The waiting was over. The burden was lifted. You’ve held the promise in your hands, and felt the peace wash over your soul that all would be well. Sit with that moment with me for a second. Remember the warmth and the relief of knowing it would be ok. The delight and nearly inexpressible joy of holding love when it finally arrived.
Now, this expression that Dicianni captures on the ancient face of Simeon and the feeling that you are touching right now in your memory, I want you to apply it to your Father God as you approach Him. This whole thing, the lights and the songs and the angels and the stories is all an effort to let you know that it is safe, you are loved, He is waiting for you.
Our times are in need of consolation and redemption. Do we have eyes to see the Savior present in the world? Do we have faith to be hands and feet?
He is here, and nothing will be the same.
Not me. Not me you. Not the world.