Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/29/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Rachel Stone
Blue Springs UMC
Wymore: First UMC
Blue River District
Rob Winslow
Chaplain
Galichia Heart Hospital
Wichita West District
Marvin Ewertt
Goldwaite UMC, Rio TX Conference
Wichita West District
Andy Hargrove
Gordon's Chapel, North Georgia Conference
Wichita West District

Today's Lectionary Text

Luke 2:25-38

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

The nativity reclamation project began about twenty years ago with the quest for souvenir snowdomes. At that time the Omaha Salvation Army stores had a policy of holding back all donations of Christmas decor. On a morning in December the accumulation would be placed on tables in plastic bags for a treasure hunt. Souvenir snowdomes were often thrown into bags of Christmas flotsam; as a result, we came home with both snowdomes and bits of other people’s leftover Christmas: keepsake bells, homemade ornaments, angels with broken arms. I found the orphaned nativity pieces especially interesting; it seemed wrong for them to continue to exist without their friends, so I combined the extra angels, shepherds, Mary’s to create a new nativity scene.
 
This nativity has now replaced the matching sets, and it changes from year to year. As a result, I think often about who we include when we tell the stories of Jesus as a child. In today’s scripture, the lectionary Gospel lesson for this past Sunday, we meet two characters who arrive in the narrative too late for our conventional nativity scene yet give the story of the incarnation continuity as we move from our celebrations of Christmas into considering what it means to be a Christmas people all year long.
 
This year especially, I think it is helpful to hear Simeon and Anna remind us from their positions of faithfulness, wisdom and life experience that the idea of the incarnation is “really real,” not a story for a single season. In the incarnation we find a story that takes us onward into a new year and invites us to do so with hope for us all. In a year when we have a heightened awareness of the limitations of human knowing, this reminder that we believe in a God who journeys with us is both an important theological underpinning and a very real comfort. Perhaps the nativity scene isn’t complete until we add Simeon and Anna, who remind us that we are part of the story every time that we remember the incarnation, look for God in the world, and share the Good News.

-Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede
Saint Paul Benson UMC
sahlschwede@greatplainsumc.org

 

Prayer for Reflection

Incarnate God, help us to see you in the world around us, listen for your words, feel your embrace and channel the wisdom of Simeon and Anna that we might share the message of your love wherever we go.
 
Follow Stephanie's continuing snowdome series for Advent here

 

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