Game Changer

Luke 2:22-40

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’[a]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons’.[b]

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.’

33 The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[d] She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

I worked with a woman named Jenny for six years. She was like a mum figure for me and a bit of a grandma figure to our kids, when we were 3000 km’s from our own family for those years. Jenny even made tape recordings of herself reading children’s stories so we could play these tapes to the kids on the long journey from Adelaide to Perth and back.

After 6 years of working closely together, we both moved on. Jenny then worked in the LCA National Office. We headed across “The Ditch” to work with the saints in Auckland. We remained friends and would see each other from time to time. Jenny was also an old-fashioned letter writer. We cherished her letters arriving in the mail box.

I mention her because of this bible text. When I think of Jenny, who has now fallen asleep in Jesus, these words of Simeon come to my mind. These words were the last words sung at Jenny’s funeral.

They are the ‘Song of Simeon’.

29 Now, Lord, let your servant depart in peace
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.’

I have spoken these words with you many times at the departure of many of our people here. I love these words of Simeon.

They help me know that God is in charge of death – my death. There will words at my death and after my death and I will know them because Jesus and his people will speak them.

They affirm in me that God is still showing us who he is and what he is about. Even death does not cease his plans or break his promises of new life, new mission, new earth, new future in him…

These words bring this light to the darkness of loss of something or someone precious: job, career, cherished experience, close friends, family. They bring the hope of God’s glorious love and kindness to me in all of the circumstances of life.

What have you lost? What are you losing? Where are you looking for light? Where are searching or hope? What or who is the ‘light of your life”?

Simeon and Anna were longing for a new hope, a new day, a change of circumstances for themselves and their nation. Unlike so many, and unlike we ourselves so often, they were looking in one place, one promise, one person. They seemed to trust that this one person, one promise, one presence would bring it all to all.

Their whole life was shaped by a longing to see something; to see a person; a promised person; a promise of God fulfilled in their life-time.

Simeon had been longing to see this Sent special human being – The Messiah, The Anointed of God, arriving to do his promising work of restoring a nation , a people, an old guy and an older women to hope for their life and their death and their nation.

Simeon reminds me of two St Kilda supporter mates I have: for all their adults lives they have been longing for a repeated of the one and only grand final win in 1966!

Are you longing for anything? Are you longing for Jesus to arrive in your life? Are you longing for anything to do with your church? Or is life pretty sweet? Nothing much more needed. Non one else really that needed…?

Not Anna and Simeon.

He (Simeon) was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 

Like a young girl who just knows she will one day play for Australia in her chosen sport, or the writer who knows that one day he will write a brilliant novel, Simeon knew that this day would come; this moment would finally arrive – and he was overjoyed.

As for Anna, she also was waiting her whole life for this promises new beginning of God.

She (Anna) was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[d] She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. 

 

The visionary man and the praying lady were united by their longing for God to change the world; to bring an end to the pain and the trouble and the damage that seems to go on day after day, year after year. “How long, O Lord?”, they must have prayed. Maybe you are now?

They held on to God. They held on to the promises that God would do something big and something complete, after which everything would be different and every injustice, every loss, every wound to the body and the soul, every hateful word of humans, every damaging activity, would come to their end and a new day of healing, hope and love would dawn.

New light. New life. New freedom. New time, new nation, new planet, new creation, new people, new me, new you …… All coming in Jesus.

The Spirit directs your eyes to him and these words of Simeon and he praying of Anna.

Why? Because this human being is the game-changer. Like the player who is subbed on for the last 15 minutes to make a difference because the team is flagging; not getting anywhere; losing this fight, heading for exhaustion and shame in a huge loss, this person will change the game from defeat to victory, shame to joy, loss to freedom, anger and fighting to loving and peace.

Simeon sees:

‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Friend, this boy is the cause of your rising or your falling. He is the game changer for your very soul.

Truth is, for so many reasons, we probably spend hardly any time waiting for him, clinging to him, lifting him to the sun in pure joy.

We often don’t believe he is that big a deal. We tend to think other people or other things, other experiences, other goals, other pursuits, other human activities and learnings are enough for hope.

Not Simeon and Anna. It seems for them that nothing came close to what they believed this boy of promise delivers to broken people. Whole nations would stand or fall on his promised gifts of resurrection, of future hope, future fulfilment, present repeated full forgiveness that heals, restores, and renews dead, dying, troubled, doubting human beings – daily.

I am praying for something now for myself, for you and for us all as his body here. It is the gift Simeon received. It is called ‘revelation’. It is chrematiza” in the original language.

I pray that the Spirit reveal his vision for you and us today. I pray that he gives you a chrematiza that burns deep into your soul so that he shapes you more than anything or anyone else, as he did with these two seniors.

Give me a community of Simeon’s and Anna who are longing for Jesus’ promises and praying for him to do his work in people’s lives, and singing words of truth and high praise to Jesus, and I will know I am in God’s holy temple; God’s holy people in THE new temple, Jesus Christ. It is where I want to be more than anywhere else.

I hope this gift comes to you and you just have to pray and listen and live in the hope it brings you, the joy that you know is yours already but one day immeasurably more.

It will make you able to embrace new things, new people, new godly loves, and leave even cherished things behind as you long for his appearing and bear witness to his game-changing love.

This world needs this Game Changer. This community needs people of this gift, this vision, this shape because through them, God changes the game one person at a time through us, alone and together. We Simeon and Anna now.

I want these words at my funeral. I want these words in my last day. I want to be able to whisper these words of Simeon with a light spirit and joyful heart.

They give me that today. I pray the Spirt give you that today.

29 Now, Lord, let your servants depart in peace
32 This salvation from death is hope and light revealed to us Gentiles;
    It is the only glory that counts for St Petri’s people.

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