As was the custom of the day, 40 days after His birth Jesus like other babies was brought into the temple to be presented before the Lord. A big moment in any family’s life and to the untrained eye, not unlike any others before them. Yet a moment in time that a man named Simeon and an elderly women named Anna that through the gift of the Holy Spirit had been waiting for. The moment they would see the promised Messiah of the World. The Saviour who they now knew as this little baby named Jesus.
I imagine that when they went back to their normal lives they would not be able to contain themselves shouting this good news from the mountain tops.
If then was as now, which I suggest is more than likely, after Simeon and Anna left having such public conversation’s, a fly on the wall may have heard:
-You know the mother was pregnant before they married
-Very lowly people and from of all places Nazareth, ( A statement understood of the time as we hear later in the Book of John those saying not only “Can the Messiah come out of Nazareth,” but “Can there any good thing come?”)
-Born in a stable, oh dear. And you know who were there don’t you. Thieving low class shepherds.
-Messiah, yer right. You wouldn’t believe what they offered at the temple. A pair of doves-peasants. (Doves being the most modest of the different sacrifices that could be offered).
And no doubt upon Simeon or Anna suffering any unfortunate situation, I’m sure some would be going along the old almost gloating “where is your Messiah God now” line.
A line probably heard by all the apostles. Eleven killed for following Christ with only John dyeing a natural death though still living under exile on the island of Patmos because of his proclamation of the risen Christ.
And the 48 year old Mary, revered throughout time but then seen standing at the cross of her beloved 33 year old son seeing His pain and death while those around hurled ridicule and abuse.
A situation that no doubt, whether to you, or to another person you would heard the same unknowing words said in the tone of a viper. Words to hurt and ridicule but words that see us like little Jobs holding to the truth in faith as things happen in, to and around us that we would prefer not.
The myth of being a Christian: never have any more worries, life will be good, and if it’s not, it means your faith is not strong enough. A myth that even according to the odd late night evangelist is perpetuated with statements such as send in money and you will be materially rewarded tenfold.
Misguided, unrealistic and even sinister crap.
Becoming a Christian is like becoming a husband or wife and then a mother or father. Absolutely the joy increases, but so does the hurt-because their hurts and sadness’s become yours.
Having faith in Christ-in being a Christian we share with Christ, the injustices and hurts of this world and its people. We may get sick or we may not, we may struggle financially or we may not-so be it, that’s life. Jesus never promised either way, he promised that he would be with us through it all, to serve us and get us over the line.
We know that later as a man, Jesus enters Jerusalem and is welcomed as the great king. “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. The King of Israel”.
Absolutely true. Albeit misguided because those welcoming Jesus expected a warrior type of king to release them from the bondage of the Romans. To drive them out of town and when this doesn’t eventuate-we know the story.
Jesus had a bigger fish to fry. Yes Jesus would release them, release from the bondage of sin. To bring true freedom, not as the warrior king, but as the servant king.
Jesus didn’t come to run the bad guys out of town, but to bring the bad guys, the Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Romans and Australians-you and me into town-into his kingdom.
Yet this side of heaven, living in God’s kingdom can sometimes feel a bit like starting pre-season training or renovating a house as when you look back you think if only I knew that was going to happen, I doubt I’d have made it to the end. Yet somehow we are all here today scars and all. Scars that God did not bring on us. But scars that somehow he used to bring us to hear of Christ, to somehow bring us to turn towards God in repentance and be free.
“Born down in a dead man’s town the first kick I took was when I hit the ground, (and) you end up like a dog that’s been beat too much till you spend half your life just covering up”. The opening lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s song “Born in the USA”. A protest song about his country that he doesn’t much sing anymore since the tragedy of September 11 and instead wrote a song called the rising.
A song with biblical overturns directed towards his country, a song of rebuilding and a song of hope
“I make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me….
There’s holy pictures of our children
dancing in a sky filled with light.
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me.
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight.”
Every person who walks this earth will at some time and at some level face persecution. And all will face death. That’s just how it is.
But in it all we know that:
Our pain upon Christ’s pain, is that, that has brought hope.
(and) Our rising upon Christ’s rising, is that, that has brought life.
In Christ what may happen is not what we dwell on; we dwell on what he has done. That he has brought us forgiveness, has brought us eternal life, has brought us freedom and has brought us life here today.
His love for us and joy of life he has given that cannot be taken from us by neither those who ridicule us, nor those who turn from us and treat us unfairly, nor the knowledge of our own sin, nor our own self- loathing.
For we are now free.
Free to cry and free to mourn, and free to live. Free to build up those who look to bring us down and free to love those who love us not. Free to climb the highest mountains or free to rest at the bottom.
Our lives of freedom from a man named Jesus. Jesus the human Son of Mary and the Holy and eternal heavenly Son of God who when entering Jerusalem as a fragile baby was worshipped by Simeon and Anna because they knew the truth.
Jesus who thirty three years later as a strapping young man and entering Jerusalem for one last time was greeted by the crowds who now saw him as the coming king by cheering and honoring him-yet only to fall away in his hour of need when he was beaten, bruised, ridiculed and slain.
When Jesus as a baby entered the temple Simeon and Anna saw the loved child of God who would change the world. .
When our neighbor enters our life in their hour of need, lowly, beaten, bruised, ridiculed and lost: in that person we may too may see them as the world does, but we too also see them as a loved child of God
The honor to see a loved child of come into our lives in whatever disguise: rich or poor: who is in need in this world-hungry, starving, wandering, looking for “something”, alone, angry, all self-centered, living a misguided high life or fragile and scared.
The honor to serve them that their earthly life may have meaning, and the honor to serve God that they know his meaning.
Like Simeon and Anna we have seen the Messiah our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ come into our lives.
Like Mary at the cross we have seen our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ unfairly beaten and killed.
And like Mary Magdalene standing by an empty tomb, the resurrected Jesus has met us in flesh and blood confirming every word of the Good news he had promised.
Martin Luther, called John 3:16 “the Gospel in miniature and the heart of the Bible,”
The Good news summarised From John 3:16 in just 26 words “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
26 words given to you feeling broken and suffering through the actions or self and others that allow you to if nothing else, rise up for another day appointed to you by God the Father.
26 words given to those of you with the means to be humbled that you serve and be served by both the obnoxious and the pleasant be it in either times of chaos and darkness, or peace and sunshine.
The Words of God that saw a little fragile baby born for our sake. The Words of God that saw that baby grow and be killed for our sake.
The Words of the bible that no matter what may seem, that you here-knowing the Lord and the Lord knowing you: can leave here today come what may-staking your life upon in both this earthly life and the heavenly life to follow.
Praise be to the: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit: for we know that as Jesus was born for us in this world, in Baptism we have been born again into His world.
Just as we know that as He was raised again from death to life on this earth, so too will we be raised to life to forever live in His heavenly presence. Amen.