We’re seeing the impact that Jesus’ birth has had beyond those who lived 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Here’s a story about one of the first people to meet Jesus, when he was about 40 days old, and how he saw Jesus would change the world:
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:22-35 ESV)
This man, Simeon, was told he would not die until he had seen the Messiah – God’s anointed one – the true king of Israel. Now, here he was, a baby in Simeon’s arms. In this song or poem, he essentially says he can finally die happy.
But this isn’t just about Simeon. It’s not even just about his people, the Jews, even though t happens at a very Jewish occasion – the temple, with all its purification laws, etc. and a Jewish blessing.
You can see it’s much larger when Simeon says God is doing something about salvation for “all peoples” and specifically a light of revelation for the Gentiles (non-Jews) as well as Israel.
The child Simeon blesses will have an impact globally, eternally. Sometimes that will be wonderful, but other times he’s described as being divisive. Whether we like that or not, we can see Jesus has indeed been divisive – it’s hard to sit on the fence about Jesus – families, friends and other people groups have long been divided by their beliefs about him.
Question: How does the birth of Jesus divide people today? What thoughts might he reveal?
Every family has routines and values, and these are closely connected. Take suburban family life as an example. On the surface, we can see routines: wake, eat, drop-off at daycare/school, commute to work, work, commute home, pickup kids, make and eat dinner, get everyone to bed, and repeat.
But we have to ask what values are behind that. Why do families move to the suburbs? There are choices, you could live in country, or the city. Why here?
For some, it’s where they grew up. Others want to be close to parents, or want their kids to have a yard of a certain size, or to be near nature.
Whatever the values, we chose the routine because of those values.
Yesterday, we saw Jesus shake up his family routine because he was pursuing a higher value. He called it the will of his Father in heaven. We have called these kingdom values, and it can be distilled down to loving God, and loving neighbour.
Jesus is challenging the extended family norms of his day, and replacing them with a new one. A new kind of family. With this new family will come new routines, all because of those founding values.
The other direction works, too.
We are trying to instill some routines in my family like saying a prayer before a meal (grace), asking our son the best and worst part of day, so we can say thanks to God in prayer, and ask for help or say sorry for the low parts of the day. We also read a Bible story and say a prayer at bed. We do this in hopes that our son will learn some values from those routines.
Let’s start simple, and look just at what it means to love God, and love neighbour.
Question: Based on the values of love God, love neighbour, what do you think Jesus’ family routines would be like? What could your immediate family’s routines look like?
This series looks at becoming “like family” with others learning to follow Jesus. We're exploring how the church is not a building, institution or event, but a community of people. It's important that explore what church means as we prepare to launch a new church in Ajax in 2014.