Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/16/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Administrative Assistant
Blue River District
Bryan Medical Center
Blue River District
Campus Ministry - Nebraska Wesleyan
Blue River District
Chaplain, Bryan Health Center
Blue River District

Today's Lectionary Text

Luke 2:22-38

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Today's Devotional

Simeon is an older man, and he has been waiting a long time to see this little baby. His world had been a disappointment through his years: Jerusalem dominated by an occupying Roman Empire; God’s ancient promises to Israel seemingly broken. In Simeon’s lifetime, all the Jewish people are waiting for a restoration of Israel’s former glory. They are waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise that all nations will one day look to Israel and Jerusalem as a light of Yahweh’s presence and justice.  They have been living under the yoke of the Assyrians and then the Babylonians and then the Persians and now the Romans for far too long.

Simeon receives consolation because in Jesus, he sees the Savior, the Messiah. He sees the one who will redeem Israel. He knows he will not see the full redemption in his lifetime, but now that he has glimpsed the bearer of God’s salvation, he can die in peace. Simeon is confident that not only will Israel be redeemed but he prophesizes that this redemption will spread to all people.
Simeon makes this declaration, and the prophet Anna picks it up and runs with it. She too sees the hope and promise of God in Jesus. It is not news that she can keep to herself. She shares the good news of Jesus’ salvation to anyone who was interested, as the text says “to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She was an evangelist to those who were fed up with the status quo of Roman occupation and oppression. She spoke a word of hope to those who were longing for more than the world had given them.

As Christmas approaches, there are many who are longing for more than the world has given them. There are many who are looking for redemption, for hope, for something better than a life story where we work and buy stuff and work and buy stuff until we die. Jesus came to give the people hope that their lives were more than cogs in the system of the Roman Empire; that they were in fact part of God’s work of restoring not just Jerusalem, not just Israel, but the whole cosmos. Jesus came to offer people liberation and a new way of life centered in God’s story of world-transforming love.

The prophet Anna knew there were people out there who needed to hear this word of hope. Who do you know who is seeking hope - and might need to hear a word of good news this Christmas?

-Rev. Chris Jorgensen
Hanscom Park UMC

Prayer for Reflection

God of Salvation, give us eyes to see and ears to hear those who long for more this holiday season. Help us to share with them your promise of a life grounded in world-transforming love. May we have the courage of Anna to offer our hands and raise our voices, our lives proclaiming hope to all who seek it. May it be so. Amen.


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