Luke 2:22-34 (click for full reading)
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon … It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.”
(Click on the title above to listen to the sermon)
There are many, many things we are supposed to “do” before we die. Type in “before you die” into a google search and you’ll get 1.2 billion results. Billion. (One of which is actually a website called “before you die” that tells you things you have to do before you kick the bucket.) Many of us have bucket lists too, places we want to see, things we want to experience, things we want to accomplish.
Today we meet Simeon. A guy with ONE thing on his bucket list: to see the salvation of the world. So he goes to the temple, every day, just waiting. He is old, he is tired, and he is ready. But he waits. Waits to see what God has promised he would see. Hoping for the day when he would be able to check that last thing off of his bucket list. And then this couple comes into the temple, and from the spirit Simeon hears: “YES.” “Yes Simeon, this is the one you have been waiting for.”
Can you imagine what Simeon must have felt at that moment? He’d spent his whole life waiting for this moment. I imagine it was nothing less than a combination of joy and terror.
So Simeon approaches Mary and Joseph, takes Jesus from their arms, and praises God. I sort of picture a cross between Dumbledore and the Lion King here. A really old guy holding up a baby in the air.
Jesus was the whole sum of Simeon’s bucket list. And Simeon’s response to this realization that he is holding the culmination of the promises of God in his hands is to sing. He sings the song of Simeon – also known as the “nunc dimittus” – which literally means “now dismiss” or “now depart.”
“Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.”
Simeon doesn’t lose hope when he checks the one and only thing off his bucket list. That checkmark on his means his hope is there, in his arms. Though Christmas already seems so far away, this salvation that Simeon sings about has just come, and still comes for us. Because salvation is not just a word we hear in church. Today, through Simeon, we are shown that salvation is a person. Salvation is Jesus. And Jesus is here. Today. With us. With us as we sing, and listen and pray. With us as we come to the table and are reminded just what that salvation has done for each and every one of us.
For you for the forgiveness of sins. For you. To change the way the world works. For you. Today the light has revealed God. For you.
Questions to Ponder or Discuss
1. What things are on your own bucket list? Have you completed any of them? If so, how did it feel to check them off your list?
2. What would it feel like or look like to add “see the salvation of the world” to your list? Do you think you could check it off? Why or why not?
3. The word salvation actually means “light.” Knowing this, what do you think the “salvation of the world” might look like in your life?
This week, I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to make a bucket list. (Have fun with it!)
For those of you with a bucket list already (and for those who make one this week for the first time), I encourage you take a moment and add ways that you can be the light of the world, and ways that you can look for that light in the world around you.