S-1468 1SAC/3B 12/28/2014 Hymns: (O) #98; (S) Nunc Dimittis (29); L.S. #647; #87; (C) # 98
Texts: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40
Theme: “I Am Ready!” (Luke 2:29-32)
Question: “Are You Ready?”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the Gospel Lesson: “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 2:29-32).
Beloved in the Lord being a pastor is such a blessing but it is also such a burden. A blessing because of the many privileges and honors the gracious Lord gives us to share His Word—the sweet message of the Gospel that brings about forgiveness and peace to troubled hearts and guilty consciences, administer the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and teach the young and the old. But it is also a burden because of our limitations and because we are sinners just like the people we serve. It is even a challenge since many choose to turn away from the Word and His church and there is nothing that we can do to bring them back except by fervent prayers and committing them to the Lord so that they may awaken and repent before it is too late.
Being a pastor is indeed a blessing. As you have heard me say before, that taking the Lord’s Supper to those who are no longer able to be in the Lord’s house (shut-ins) and give them this precious gift is my favorite day of the month.
One saint in particular whenever I would visit her would always say, “Pastor I am ready! Ready to receive the Lord’s Supper and ready to leave this world to the place MY Lord has prepared for me through His death and resurrection.” Oh, these sweet words of this saint. She was eager and ready to receive the medicine of immortality.
These are the exact words of aged Simeon in the text before us today. He was saying “I Am Ready!” He is ready to depart from this world and be with Him because he has seen the salvation the Father promised him long ago. PAUSE.
Precious children of God, we certainly don’t know much about aged Simeon. What we have in Scripture is so brief but sufficient enough to let us know that this man according to St. Luke was “righteous and devout” waiting for the consolation of Israel” (2:25). This man, though righteous and devout is not perfect or without sin. But he waited, hoped and trusted the promises of God.
On this special day (40 days after the birth of Jesus) the Holy Spirit led him to the temple to see the holy family but especially to behold with his own eyes and to embrace in his own arms the baby Jesus—the salvation God had promised.
Consider the feelings, the emotions and the joy that caused his heart to dance as he held in his own arms the Savior of the world—his own Savior. He was holding God in the flesh. He was cradling forgiveness in person. He was embracing the answer to all of his hopes, fears and dreams. You can almost envision him smiling, joyful and holding tightly the baby Jesus as he sang the hymn of praise saying: “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.”
Simeon had seen with his eyes and held in his arms close to his heart the Promised One—the Prince of Peace. He squeezed love with a tight embrace and having done that. He said “I Am Ready! I am ready to die now. I have seen what I been waiting for. I know Your Word is true and You keep all of Your promises!” PAUSE.
Beloved saints, don’t you wish you could have been there to behold with your eyes and hold in your arms the baby Jesus. We can and we do! The same Spirit makes it possible for us to hold the Christ not with our arms of course, but with our hearts. Faith’s arms may be invisible, but the Savior they hold is very real. Our joy shouldn’t be less than Simeon’s. We just were privileged to celebrate the birth of the Savior-our Savior and were able to hold Him more tightly and close to our hearts. That is the blessings we have and we will have it very soon as we gather around His table.
However, we don’t all cherish these moments or look forward to seeing Him or being with Him often. As I said earlier being a pastor is also a burden. It is a burden because as a pastor you want to bless your people with all the gifts the Savior has given—but your people don’t accept it or walk away from it.
Add to that, some don’t cherish this blessed medicine of immortality. Some are not even eager to receive the body and blood of Jesus. Even those who come don’t take a deep look and see what lies before them. We go through the motions without even realizing the gift that awaits us at the Altar. We don’t say with joy I am ready; instead, “Oh no, we are having the Lord’s Supper the service will take longer today!” Rather than being eager with excitement and great anticipation to both receive the medicine of immortality and be ready to depart, we would rather stay longer on planet earth. Our eyes are focused on temporary things rather than eternal blessings.
We should be eager like the saint I visit who is always ready to both receive the Sacrament of the Lord and to depart from this world. We ought to be eager and realize that every time we gather in this place, we have a little Christmas, Easter and Passover. We should with longing eyes be eager to see that what’s on the Altar is none other than God’s Salvation—the the true, real and blessed Sacrament of the Babe of Bethlehem who was willing to be broken and bruised for us to give us—sinners His salvation.
You may not be ready but Jesus is. He is ready even now to forgive you your sins. He is ready to receive you in His loving arms. He is ready to bless you always with every good and perfect gift. He is ready to spend time with you and feed you and nurture you. He is ready even now to hold you as His very own child.
As Simeon beheld the Babe of Bethlehem both with his eyes and arms, so do you. Today, you will see the Salvation. Today you will hold the body and blood and take it into your mouth. Today, you will be blessed and by the Spirit’s power will sing the song of Simeon and say: “Lord, I am Ready! Ready to partake of this medicine and ready to spend my eternity with You!”
In the name of the salvation of Israel and the joy He brings, I say Amen and Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA