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?
Yesterday we defined worship as giving worth to God, or in other words, acknowledging he is at the center of our lives, or we want him there if he isn’t.
Worship is about practicing God’s Presence. We can forget God is there in our busy lives, and something tangible can help. A friend of mine mentioned Elf on the Shelf on Facebook. Elf on the Shelf is a small elf doll that parents are supposed to hide somewhere in the house every night, claiming he is a “scout elf” who reports back to Santa. The elf becomes a visible symbol for small children who might forget that Santa is watching.
Worship is meant to be a visible symbol for those of us who might forget God is watching.
In the busyness of our everyday lives, we cannot always remember that God is with us. In spite of our best intentions we may find ourselves living and acting without regard to the fact that God is present in every aspect of our lives.
Sometimes we think something in our lives is coincidence, but God is actually doing something incredible. Sometimes we will find resources are suddenly supplied that we needed, and will think it was luck or our skills, when it was in fact God’s provision.
We want to develop an increasing sensitivity to God’s presence with us. We know that we develop skills and get better at things by practicing: an old saying reminds us practice makes perfect. It would be more truthful to say that practice reinforces, but in this case reinforcement is good enough. We need a way to reinforce our awareness of God’s presence in our lives.
Question: When have you seen God working in the last week? What seeming coincidences were there?
Reminder: Earlier in this series, we saw the importance of reading the Bible together in sync, so our new daily bible readings start today in our mobile app and web site.
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.