Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Message From Simion and Anna...Luke 2:21-38

Simeon and Anna are the forgotten people of the Christmas story.  They remind me of when I was young. We had distant elderly relatives who lived in exotic places like Canada and  lower Hutt who we never saw  but ever Christmas we would receive a Christmas card and a letter that kept us up to date and was enough for my parents to renew that family bond.

Maybe we don’t link Simion and Anna with Christmas because they didn’t make the trek to Bethlehem and they didn’t worship Jesus round the back at that stable. They didn’t encounter armies of angels to tell them of this miracle birth. They didn’t follow a star and bring kingly gifts. They are like many in our society because of their age and circumstances they don’t get around much. Their world revolved around the temple.


Maybe we don’t think of them because they seem a bit eccentric, an old man who had the assurance that he would not die before he saw the lord’s promised messiah and an old women who had been a widow longer than most people had been alive and whose words rang uncomfortably with God’s truth.


Maybe we don’t think of them because what Simeon has to say isn’t as comfortable as the other messages related to Christmas. He’s not all peace and goodwill. Simeon is the person in Luke’s account of the Christmas narrative whom the Holy Spirit uses to link Christmas with Easter, there is a tinge of sadness and sorrow in his words. He says that not only has Jesus come to be a light for the world and a sign from God that Jesus will bring salvation, but he tells us that Jesus will also bring destruction and that he will be spoken against by many, revealing the secrets of their heart.  They are things that just don’t seem to fit with the tinsel and star twinkle of Christmas. He also points beyond that to God’s love for the whole world that in Jesus there is a light for all people.  Jew and Gentile have a light to reveal God’s will to them.  Matthew’s gospel tells the same story and sometimes we miss it, because in Matthew’s account the ones who seem to recognise the significance of Christ’s birth for all people are the wise men who come from the east.



Maybe we don’t think of them because Anna gives a political aspect to Jesus birth, even beyond what we see with Herod in Matthew’s gospel. She tells all those who long for Jerusalem to be free from roman rule that the promised messiah has come. The Christmas story has that element in it that the present world order be it a paranoid dictator like Herod or a globalising force like the roman army or the western materialistic consumer society that we live in has a rival. That with the coming of the Christ child there is new way to live. In Jesus the kingdom of God is being ushered into the realms of humanity. Jesus came so that in the lives of people who put their trust in him that the reign of God’s mercy and justice might begin in the entire world, at a personal level and at a systemic level. In the way we treat each other, love one another as I have loved you, and on a world stage how we deal with issues like poverty and how the powerless and least amongst us are treated; blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of God, as you have done it for the least of these my brothers and sister you have done it for me. In the restoration of relationship, with God… AS John starts his gospel by saying.. to all who believed in him he gave the right to become sons and daughters of the most high, with one another, In Christ the apostle Paul will tell a church in multi-cultural city of Ephesus, there is neither jew nor gentile, Greek and barbarian, male or female, slave or free person, the boundaries that separate us are broken down as we become citizen’s of God’s kingdom and brothers and sisters in Christ.  And also with the whole of creation.


Mary however listened to them and told Luke about their amazing words; Luke writes the Christmas narrative from Mary’s perspective as he tells us in Luke 2:19 that Mary remembered all these things and though about them deeply. Maybe Simeon’s word’s about a sword piecing her heart’ came to mind as she stood all those years later in Jerusalem watching her son, this time as he was being brutally killed and in those words she would have seen a glimmer of hope that even this was part of God’s plan from before the beginning.

Maybe we to need to hear them today. If they wrote a Christmas letter to us they would tell us to rejoice because of this child. Rejoice because of what his life and his death have done for us. Rejoice because we don’t need to go off to the little town of Bethlehem but like Simeon and Anna we can meet Jesus in the midst of our everyday lives. Jesus who is the light of the world, who is a stumbling block for some, but for those who know him and believe is a source of salvation: forgiveness, wholeness, purpose and a new way to live.

Jesus came for us lived amongst us, called us to follow him  taught us of his Kingdom, died for us and rose again.

So Merry Christmas from me, Merry Christmas from Simion and Anna, and I don’t think I’m being presumptuous here but along with Anna and Simion can I say that I hope  in the midst of your celebrations and festivities, your rituals and traditions  that  you encounter in a fresh and life giving way,  Jesus born of Mary.

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