S-1355-1SAC/C 12/30/2012 Hymns: #LSB 590; #50; L.S. #LSB 594; #310; #105; #136
Texts: Exodus 13:1-3, 11-15; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:22-40
Theme: “That Is What It Is!” (Luke 22:25-32)
Question: “Are you ready to die?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our First Sunday After Christmas is from the Gospel lesson: “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’” (Luke 22:25-32).
Happy six days after Christmas precious saints! Legendary broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite who anchored the CBS network news from 1962 to 1981, was known for signing off by saying, “And that’s the way it is!” Many people who listened to the broadcast on daily basis were used to hearing him say the sentence and analyzed that’s the way it is in the world—our world.
And so today, as we gather in the Lord’s house on the first Sunday after Christmas we hear Luke say, “That’s the way it is of the coming Savior into the world. That’s the way it is for Christ to make His entrance to Bethlehem. That’s the way it is for the story of salvation. That’s the way it is as told to him by Mary and the other witnesses, and that’s the way it is for Him to make our hearts His home.”
Indeed, that’s the way it is for Luke to convey the Christmas story and the salvation that He came to bring. “For the GRACE of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” You should know beloved that’s the way it is because grace is both the theme and the entire content of the Christmas message, and it is precisely what you and I and every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve need to hear.
Luke emphasizes in this discourse the true Grace of God that has come in the Baby of Bethlehem—that He came to bring about salvation. Christ has appeared to pay man’s debt of sin, and for that reason, man is indeed blessed. The Lord of all lords has become the Servant of all servants. God had to humble Himself so deeply to pay our debt. He began to pay it while lying in the deepest misery in the manger, and He didn’t stop paying it until, forsaken by God. He was about to breathe His last upon the cross. Then and only then, after having paid the very last cent of our debt, could He cry out with the shout of victory, “IT IS FINISHED!” (John 19:30). By that act of love, Christ brought about our reconciliation with God, who opened the gates of heaven to those who believe in Him as Lord and God.
That’s the way it for us even today, as we gather as His followers to hear the message of Luke describing the characters in the Christmas story. Luke informs us of another fact—the fact of one man who said “That is what it is!” PAUSE.
This man was none other than Simeon. When Simeon saw the poor young couple coming into the temple to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (v 24), his eyes saw the glory and his eyes saw the sacrifice. He knew it was not Mary and Joseph who would redeem their Son with the humble sacrifice of pigeons. Simeon knew that their Son would redeem them, because He was the sacrifice! Simeon’s eyes saw the Ark of the Covenant for real in the Jerusalem temple for the first time ever. He held the Mercy Seat in his arms, not the one built out of gold by Moses and Aaron weighing some 300 pounds, but the 12 pounds of God in the flesh, the Lord, who would grow in stature and literally bare His holy arm bloody before the eyes of all the nations! Indeed, that’s the way it is.
Simeon heard the Word of promise and held it in his hands that day in the temple. He didn’t act in the process, he just passively received. Today, the same kind of miracle happened. Maddyn Nicole Blom also received that same Word. She was bathed with the Grace of God and the Mercy of God. Now, like Simeon and Anna, her name is written in the Lamb’s book of life!
Simeon, the man of God held the salvation in his hands and heart. Maddyn, too, as tiny as she is now has the salvation in her heart and it will not be long, and she will hold Him in both heart and hands. We rejoice with the Blom family at the Grace given their daughter and the salvation she has now received.
In like measure, we give thanks that Simeon had seen that salvation too. Having seen and held the heavenly Child, Simeon is ready to die. There was nothing else he needed to see in this world. The Lord of heaven and earth has fulfilled His promise to this man who had waited patiently for the arrival of the salvation of mankind. And therefore with joy he lifts his eyes towards heaven and happy to let go of this earth and its troubles. PAUSE.
How about us? Are we ready to die? Are we ready to let go of the things that tangle and drag us down? Are we ready to meet our Maker? Are we ready to depart in peace? At times we’re not ready to die because we’re just barely coming alive, and our eyes are barely opening. We’re still too distracted, playing in our stagnant mud puddles, to look for earthly things to satisfy our longing. We seek every avenue to hold on to life, rather than hold on to the Author of LIFE.
When we are sick we seek the best doctors and spend the most amount of money because we are not ready to let go and let God take care of us. Rather than seeking out the Divine Physician, we seek others whom we think can help us. It is not wrong to seek doctors who have the gifts to make our lives better. But what is wrong when we do everything in our power not to face the truth that life in this world is nothing but full of troubles and eventually death will come.
On the other hand, Simeon is sure and certain that in his own hands he held the long expected Messiah that is what it is. Simeon is now ready to die because all of Scripture has come to fulfillment. Both with his physical and spiritual eyes He sees the true temple, Mercy Seat, and the blessed Savior offered up once for all on the cross to make complete atonement for all human sin! His eyes had seen the real thing, he had bathed in the GRACE of God and he is now ready to go home!
For this reason, Simeon is moved by the Holy Spirit to sing the wonderful song that you and I sing after we see with our own eyes and hold in our hands the same GIFT that he saw: “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” (Luke 2:39-32).
Having seen the True Temple, Mercy Seat, and the blessed Savior who gives us His body and blood; we are moved by the power of the Holy Spirit to join Simeon and sing the song of our salvation. Not just as a nice tune, but because that is what it is—the Savior who comes to us in this precious gift; just as it came to our precious little princes—Maddyn Nicole Blom in the waters of baptism.
This is more than just a catchy tune, but a proclamation and confession of our faith. Because we have tasted and seen the Savior we are able to leave not only the Altar and the Divine Service but even the world to be with Him forever.
Therefore, today may we go back to Bethlehem and fall on our knees in worship before the manger. For here the most beautiful drama in heaven and on earth presents itself to us. Here lies the GRACE of God, the One who brings us salvation and blessedness. Hallelujah! And that’s the Way it IS!” Amen.
Now the peace of God…
SOLI DEO GLORIA