What is it About This Kid 12-28-14

This morning’s sermon is based on Luke 2:22-4o. This is the story of Simeon and Anna encountering the infant Jesus in the temple.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/what-is-it-about-this-kid-12-28-14

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Have you ever heard that old expression…you’ve got to see it to believe it…or perhaps a similar notion that in order to really understand something you’ve got to experience it for yourself? (pause)

When I was younger, I didn’t put much stock in that particular notion…and I find myself wondering if that’s the normal tendency for most children. (pause) Think about, kids typically take things pretty much at face value don’t they? You tell them a story or give them an answer to a question…and they pretty well accept it as truth…and that was certainly the case for me.

Thinking back, it didn’t really even need to be that great of a story for me to buy into it…depending on who it was that was telling me. In my youth, I idolized my brother…and I remember a time when probably about 11 or 12, he told me a story of about one of the other high schoolers making some random statement in what he thought to be a humorous fashion…and since my big brother thought it was funny…I thought it was hilarious…at least until I tried to tell some of my friends about it…and they just sorta looked at me. I guess they needed to experience it for themselves. (pause)

But then as I got older…I started to realize that there was certainly some truth in that whole notion. And perhaps the best example of this whole deal came about a few years back when we visited Washington DC. (pause) It shouldn’t have been at all shocking to me. I’d seen all the monuments on tv…I’d seen videos of the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier…but until I stood there…staring up at the Washington monument…or in front of the giant carving of Lincoln sitting in his chair…until I watched those highly trained men go through the ritual of guarding the tomb…I couldn’t possibly know just what it was all about…truly I had to see it for myself. (pause)

Today’s gospel lesson offers the same sort of notion today…the idea of truly having to see something with one’s own eyes. (pause) But certainly this goes far beyond anything that I can attempt to compare with…there was a man, living in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon…a man righteous and devout…a man that the Holy Spirit rested upon…and this man had been informed that he would…in fact…see the messiah for himself.

Now keep in mind the history behind this whole situation. The people of Israel had been waiting for the Messiah for centuries…literally centuries. In their minds, the Messiah would be a political leader that would reclaim the throne of David, throw out whatever ruling empire was in power at the time…and reestablish the nation of Israel. This was the expectation of the people…and they prayed day after day that this great deliverer would eventually arrive…and make no mistake…they truly believed that it would happen…they just didn’t know when.

But then there’s this guy…Simeon…and for what ever reason…God chooses him…and at some point in the past…lets him know that truly the Messiah is coming…and God promises Simeon…You will not die until you have seen him.

Certainly we’ve heard this sort of thing before…God making a promise to someone in their younger years…telling them that they can count on it…and then waiting years for it to actually happen.

Admittedly, we don’t know how long Simeon has been sitting on this knowledge…resting on the promise that God had made to him….but on this one special day…Simeon’s “Holy Spirit radar” goes off and he thinks to himself “I better get myself off to the temple today.”

And who should show up? Mary and Joseph and this newborn baby…not more than a few weeks old…brought to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord…and as they are all walking in…they cross paths with Simeon…now grown old…here by the urging of the Spirit…and Simeon sees the baby.

What would you think…if you were Mary and Joseph…and this random old guy that you’ve never seen before asks to hold your newborn? Do you let him do it? I think most of us would be pretty hesitant, but yet the story tells us that Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and immediately began praising God because he knew…truly…this was the long awaited Messiah…and obviously Simeon knew it by the words of the song that he sang in that moment. (pause)
And yet, I find myself wondering if this baby was who Simeon had really expected. Certainly you’d think when God chose to reveal his Messiah, it would be an adult…someone strong and ready to take on the mantle of leadership…certainly it couldn’t be this newborn…not even able to hold his head up…much less to take on the Roman empire.

But that being said…there MUST have been something about this baby…something about Jesus…because people responded to him…Just last Sunday, downstairs in the confirmation class, we talked about Jesus calling the first disciples…and for the most part we focused on the first 4…Peter, Andrew, James, and John…called by Jesus while they were fishing…and at his word…they left everything to follow him…and we also mentioned Matthew the tax collector…who was sitting at his booth one day when Jesus walked up and simply said “Follow me.” And that’s exactly what he did.

What is it about Jesus? I find myself wondering this from time to time…what was it about him that made people respond so favorably? We see it today as well with Simeon…but the truly astonishing thing about this story is that it seems to be only the appearance of the baby that sparks off Simeon’s understanding of just who the Messiah really was.

Jesus is a newborn…he can’t speak for himself…he can’t answer questions or give directions…and yet Simeon understands in an instant…just what the Messiah would be. And he praises God saying “I have seen your salvation…and it is prepared in this baby…for all people. He will be a light of revelation shining in the darkness…and people will see through him.

And truly, the first revelation must have been for Simeon himself…for how else would he know all this? (pause) And so I pose the question again…just what was it about this Jesus guy that made people respond? And unfortunately that’s not a question that we can answer…because we have not seen him for ourselves…but that being said…we do have something in common with Simeon…the Holy Spirit.

For the Holy Spirit rested upon Simeon…leading him…guiding him…and instructing him…and in our baptisms we too receive the gift of the same spirit…that same spirit which has been active within the world, even before Christ came on the scene…and this same spirit remains within the world today…as God continues to take an active part in the lives of all people…leading us…guiding us…helping us all to understand the same thing that Simeon clung to…that God has made promises…and we trust that God will do what God says he will do.

And those promises are made a reality in this baby…met so graciously that day all those years ago by Simeon…who praised God at the revealing of the Messiah saying now you are dismissing your servant in peace…

And what is this peace that Simeon experiences? (pause) It is the peace of mind and spirit in knowing that the promises of God are true…not only that they are true for all people…but more importantly that they are true for you. (pause)

Just what is it about this kid? This helpless baby who came into the world kicking and screaming like every other baby ever born? Well, he’s the savior of the world…he’s the fulfillment of God’s promises…and he’s here for you. Amen.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Teri on December 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I just got caught up on the last 3 sermons. They were all really great. You are doing a great job of being a pastor. Thanks for sharing. Love you. Have a great day. See you tomorrow.

    Reply

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