Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know that children flocked to You and willingly embraced You in love. We also know that You embraced them, held them, loved them; and that Your kind heart extends to all people of all ages. Today as we are reminded of old age via Simeon and Anna, comfort each of us with the knowledge that Your kind heart is truly ageless. And because of that fact, we will never be alone. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR KIND SAVIOR!
TEXT: Luke 2: 25-40
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Most of you know that our congregation is very young. All you have to do is look around. You will see few gray heads, but many small heads attached to the bodies of many small children. What a blessing! Along with that gift from God comes responsibility. You see, most children today have greatly extended families. Aunts, uncles, grandparents—generally speaking they live great distances away. Unlike in years past, kids don’t grow up and have daily interaction with seasoned citizens. Thus, they don’t benefit from the wisdom that age conveys. That’s a sad fact of America today. That is, kids need older role models to show them how to grow up gracefully, and too often such role models don’t exist. Ah, but they do here at church! And that’s one reason why God has allowed you older folks to live so long! So, sit down at a table with little kids in the hall afterward. Get to know them. They will benefit and you’ll probably walk a little more spritely when you leave.
Older Christians can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that life has passed them by. Once that attitude sets in, it begins to corrode our faith and outlook on life. I believe that’s one of the reasons that God caused this delightful lesson about Anna and Simeon to be recorded. It’s a wonderful antidote to old-age corrosion! For it clearly teaches us that:
NO MATTER ONE’S AGE, GOD NEVER DISAPPOINTS
We don’t know how old Simeon was when he held the baby Jesus in his arms. Juxtaposed with Anna, who was 84, he had to be about the same age. That doesn’t sound too out-of-the-ordinary in our modern age, but in that time when anyone over 50 was “old” due to meager diet and the lack of antibiotics, to live into your 80’s was a minor miracle!
Simeon was a devout believer in God and in Christ. The fact that Luke calls him “righteous” means he was right with God. And the only way anyone can become right with God is to embrace, through faith, the rightness that God gives as a free gift via Jesus. Likewise, God had blessed him in another way. We’re told that the “Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” What a blessing this man received! He would see the very Son of God here on earth before he saw Him in heaven! How that must of thrilled him. No doubt every day he wondered when he got up: “Is today the day?”
Well, one day, 8 days after Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, that day arrived. Yes, no matter one’s age, God never, ever, disappoints! “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required (to circumcise him make sacrifices), Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’”
Today we use those exact same words as we conclude our communion service. Why? Because they exactly reflect what we have experienced in communion. Christ has joined Himself, miraculously to bread and wine, and thus we have seen and eaten His true body and blood for the forgiveness of all our sins. We have been blest by His presence among us. His communion presence is not just a symbolic presence. It is as real as the baby that Simeon saw and held. How is this so? Well, you heard the angel Gabriel tell you how just last week: “For nothing is impossible with God!” And just as Simeon wasn’t disappointed that day, we’re not disappointed today, either. For Christ has once more come to dwell with us!
Mary and Joseph marveled at this pious interaction between the old and the young. It made everyone involved happy. Then Simeon also announced a prophecy about Jesus which would come true later on. Christ came to save all. But not all would accept His salvation. Those who rejected Him would fall, but those who accepted Him in humble faith would rise to eternal life. Meanwhile, someday Mary’s own heart would be pierced with grief.—An early
reminder of the crucifixion to come. But even here, we see that no matter one’s age, God never disappoints.—For by Christ’s eventual death, salvation and heaven were won for countless souls.
Meanwhile, Anna, that 84 year old God-loving woman appeared. Apparently, she is given intimate knowledge of what’s happening, for we’re told: “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
The key word in that whole section is: redemption. To redeem means to “buy back for a price.” Jerusalem stands for the city of God’s people. It stands for the Holy Christian Church, for you and for me, for young and for old, who embrace Christ because He has embraced us. Yes, as St. John says: “We love Him because He first loved us.” And what has Christ bought us back from sin, death, and Satan’s power with?—His blood! The blood He first shed at His circumcision that day and the blood that would later pour forth from His cross. The entire lifespan of Jesus is included here. From birth to death, everything He did was about saving us. It was all about making us right with God by means of His love for us.
We don’t know anything more of Anna and Simeon than is recorded here. But that really doesn’t matter. They probably died soon thereafter. But they embraced death, as all Christians do, because it meant eternal peace with God and eternal joy alongside the Christ Child. Yes, no matter one’s age, God never disappoints!
One final paragraph is included which is rich in meaning. It speaks of Christ growing up and ends with: “he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” Since Christ was the eternal Son of God Who knows all things, how could He grow in wisdom? Since Jesus was and is the Source of God’s grace, for recall that grace means: “God’s undeserved love in Christ”, why did God the Father heap grace upon Him? Well, the answer is: Jesus didn’t always use His divine powers. He purposely put them aside most of the time so as to truly experience everything about being human. He did this in love for us so that He might better meet our many needs by feeling the frustration and powerlessness that we feel by being caught up in this worldly existence and its aging process. Yes, Jesus knows exactly what it’s like to be a child, a teenager, a young man, and a mature man. He feels the pain of all ages. But, because of His divine love, which He extends today to each of you, no matter one’s age, God never disappoints! I can say that because God’s love truly is ageless!