Day 8: Simeon Says

I had a great uncle John who spoke Slovak and drank whiskey and ate rum balls with my Grandpa during the holidays. He was fantastic. Always laughing. Telling jokes. His ears were the size of Texas and he gave great hearty hugs. Uncle John didn't seem to get out much, but when he did, he said hilarious things; he was always telling us grand stories. He was a good man.

Simeon in the Christmas narrative feels like my Uncle John. A good man. Getting up there in age. Most likely big ears and jovial laughter. Always telling grand stories. 

In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel.

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,

This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are.
— Luke 2

What a tender moment we get to be a part of.  Simeon asking Mary, "May I hold your baby?" Mary passing her boy off to the gentle, prayerful man. 

It's the sweetest thing when old people hold babies. A tiny new hand wrapped around an old shaking finger. Old eyes gazing into new ones. Generations holding each other.  

The expectant one, holding the Expected One.  

I love that Mary and Joseph were speechless and surprised by Simeon's words: "With my own eyes I have seen your Salvation." What a statement. They had been visited by angels and had some outlandish dreams, and now, Simeon. Who essentially says now he can die - he's seen the Savior of the world.

But that last part. Did you see that last part? Her baby boy will grow up and be "misunderstood and contradicted - the pain of a sword thrust through" Whew. No one carols about that. We don't usually focus on this in the Christmas story and if I was Mary, I'd stumble, grabbing onto something. Swords on Christmas? It's a lot. Joy and grief all from Simeon.

Joy and grief on Christmas. God knows we have both this season. He is in both. Born into both. Born for both. What grief do you carry this season? Know that He sees and knows and came for peace and comfort. Tidings of comfort and joy to you today. 

It's a heavy ending of Simeon's song. But it's what He was born for. Jesus was born for you. For me. For death. For sin. For rejection. For all the terribleness of the broken world. 

Born for life and death. Born to be with us. Born to be perfect and to take our imperfection and kill it for good. For good.

Born for good. 

 

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room.
And Heaven and Nature sing.

 

Dear God, this whole Christmas story is packed with joy, mystery, and even grief. Which sounds about right. Packed with life. Thank you for coming. For those who got to hold you and feel like their life was complete. For uncles and Simeons and angels and announcements. You are good and mysterious and we celebrate your coming.