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Consolation & Redemption

Christmas 20-21  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:12
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Luke 2:22–40 NIV
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”), 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.” 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 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 marveled 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. She never left the temple but worshiped 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.

The Holy Family

Time

In Greek, the original written language of the new testament there are two interesting words for time that help us understand better how we experience life and how God goes to work within and beyond time...
The first example is found in Galatians
Galatians 4:4 NIV
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
This is the word: Chronos. It measures the passing of time in moments. Today a stopwatch is another name for a chronograph. It lets you measure time with precision. You are very aware of the passing of each tiny measure.
The second example is found in Ephesians...
Ephesians 1:10 NIV
10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
This kind of time reaches deeply into a particular moment to unpack everything that is going on and how it is significant. Slow-motion video applies here...
TIMEX Commercial from the late 80’s. It features a rather hideous woman who is obviously being played by a middle aged male actor. The old joke about a woman being so ugly that she cracked her mirror. Yeah, this commercial took that to an extreme. Wherever this beauty goes glass starts to shatter under shall we say the weight of her beauty. So we see her check herself in the mirror, which cracks. She heads out and gets on the bus, where a man’s glasses shatter Then the windows of the bus. Then she exits the bus at the jewelry store, where the display cases begin to shatter. Everything is being reduced to rubble. All except the contents of one particular display. Of course, it’s all the Timex Watches. Because stare as she might they could take a licking and keep on ticking....
That’s how we tend to think of time. The tick tick tick of the second hand or ever advancing numbers of a digital stopwatch. Tick tick tick. Minutes, hours, days, we watch the time with precision and try to make the most of it but feel it slipping away...
Another way to imagine it is to let your mind go back to the circus. Imagine a trapeze artist swinging back and forth. This is the tick tock of seconds. Now in your mind add a second trapeze artist. Two of them swinging back and forth and now they get into sync with each other. Now it gets very interesting doesn’t it? The first artist lets go of the swing and is now flying through the air. The second artist is now coming back to the first who is doing summersaults. We lean forward in our seats. How will this end? Surely they’ve practiced it. But there’s no room for error… They are about to grab hands when suddenly!!! Aha, there we have it. That is like Kairos. It’s a moment that matters a little more than the ones that came before it. This moment will give meaning to all the moments leading up to it and all the moments after it.
Trapeze is an example of two ways to think of time. Like two of the greek words for time in the bible that I mentioned earlier. Chronos and Kairos.
This is a kairos moment for Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Anna and Simeon.
First let’s take Simeon...

Simeon

Luke 2:25–27 NIV
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,
He was waiting… In the season of Advent we spent several weeks waiting for Christmas. But also we reminded ourselves that we are waiting for Jesus to return and fully establish his kingdom. Unlike some of us, Simeon was good at waiting… The word here means waiting but in the sense of looking forward to something. Waiting with anticipation. Fully expecting it to happen.
He was waiting for Jesus to come the first time. He wasn’t a zealot who tried to shape his time. He wasn’t trying to kill Roman soldiers or participating in a coup. He wasn’t using Twitter to express angry thoughts. He was praying. He was waiting. He was trusting God to move in God’s time. He allowed the Holy Spirit to work deeply in his life. He followed the Spirit’s leading on the regular as they say...
There is an interesting phrase it says that he was waiting for the consolation of Israel.

Consolation

This word consolation is Paracleisin. Similar to Paraclete which is a name John’s gospel gives to the Holy Spirit, the comforter or counselor.
So the Holy Spirit was no doubt a comfort to him as he waited with anticipation for the full scale comfort of God’s arrival on the scene in the life of the one true Messiah, Jesus. The Spirit told him that he would not die before seeing him arrive. So Simeon was a bit like Elisha who didn’t leave Elijah’s side. He didn’t want to miss the moment.
So when the Spirit led, Simeon dropped everything and went. What was he doing? Was it something ordinary? Was he already at the shops for errands? Whatever it was it was suddenly secondary. Did he drop his bag and press quickly to the crowd? Oh I wish I could have seen it with my own eyes. As this now elderly man made his way to the moment he had been living for...
Luke 2:28–35 NIV
28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss 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 marveled 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.”
Powerful words to this fragile couple. Words of reassurance that God was at work. Words of calling for this was no ordinary child and salvation was in the balance. Words of warning that this won’t be an easy path. But to continue trusting God just as they have to this point.
Imagine if he had given up? Lost his faith. Said I waited 30 years how long do you expect me to wait? But he didn’t give up. What if he had simply delayed obedience that day? Let me finish what I’m doing here… But he didn’t question. And it wasn’t just about him. The holy family heard what they needed, and you and I get reminded to hang on, trust God, and live in the moment as God leads. Good things happened and will happen for us as we follow...
Well if the story ended there it’s amazing, but there’s just one more thing… One more faithful person in the right place at the right time...

Anna

Luke 2:36–38 NIV
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. She never left the temple but worshiped 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.
Did you see her sense of timing? Coming up to them at that very hour, This is chronos colliding with Kairos. A very precise moment full of meaning that will impact moments to come...
She too was good at waiting. She had been praying and fasting at the temple since her husband died after a brief marriage. I wonder how many people walked right past her or thought she was odd. But she didn’t care. She let the fullness of the presence of God fill the emptiness of her heart. And she too was longing for God to move in her lifetime.
She hadn’t lost her touch. She too was right on time. So even older ladies, seemingly forgotten by the world, get a major role in the story of God saving the world. Isn’t that wonderful? God is good.
She was a prophetess so she spoke under God’s spirit. She did the only thing that is right and good in moments such as this. She gave thanks. Her heart was full and I’m sure her eyes were a little moist. And I’m sure Mary and Joseph’s hearts were pounding as they received these words about their child for all who looked forward to the redemption of Israel. So Israel would not just be comforted. Jerusalem that great city of God would also be redeemed. Pulled back from the brink of destruction. Set free to live for God. Forgiven and restored. God would ultimately pull the full potential out of this people and all the people who look to the Lord.
God works. Maybe it’s a bit like a gift card. You could look at it and say what is this funny piece of plastic? What good is it. But God knows that value is stored up within. He has the code to unlock its true value. The value of God’s people. The value of every person who is willing to be redeemed.

Redemption

Speaking of redemption...
Galatians 4:4 NIV
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
This is about the specific moment arriving… So understand that we should pay attention to our lives. The Messiah won’t arrive as a baby ever again. But what possibilities are stored up in the moments of our lives. Are there things you have been praying for? Are there people who need to be redeemed? Are there lives that need to be restored? Does your family need the holy spirit to breath new life?
Then ask yourself, am I still waiting with anticipation for God to work? Can I be like Simeon? Will I have the praying tenacity of Anna? By the grace of God and the ministry of the holy spirit we can, if we don’t give up.
Ephesians 5:16 NKJV
16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
See we shouldn’t expect life to be shiny and perfect all the time. That’s part of why God has us here. To redeem the time. Make the most of every opportunity. Hang in there with the passing moments so we don’t miss the special moments that make new things possible.
I’m glad Mary and Jospeh were there at the temple bringing the child to present to the Lord. Knowing they needed God’s help if they had any chance of getting this right.
Luke 2:39–40 NIV
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.
Everyone was in the right place at the right time doing the right thing and oh so many good things happened.
Let’s redeem our moments. Let’s believe it’s worth waiting through the tick tick tick of chronos to get to the Oh Wow of Kairos. When God breaks through and it’s been so worth the wait. Let’s pray...
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