December 27, 2020
Due to icy road conditions, we did not live-stream our service today. However, there is still quite a lot of Christmas content on our Youtube page! Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaqxIAcS7mob18SYsNvqD7g
Though we didn’t have a service, we still have reflection questions for what would have been our passage for the week:
This is the final lesson in our Songs of the Season series. Before we move away from Christmas-tide and into Epiphany, there’s one more ancient hymn to consider, and it strikes an appropriate note on which to end the calendar year as well: the Song of Simeon is sung by an old man who is letting go. May God bless our reading of the Word:
- Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to Jerusalem, in accordance with Jewish ritual (Exodus 13 & Leviticus 12). While the Law said that every first-born male would be dedicated to the Lord, the only other example we hear specifically in scripture is Samuel, which seems appropriate given Mary’s similarities to Hannah as we’ve discussed before. What does it mean for a parent to “dedicate” a child to the Lord? What sort of obligation does it place on the child and on the family? How is this similar or different to the practice of baptizing children, as we do in the Presbyterian tradition? (We’ll be talking more about baptism week after next – stay tuned!)
- We don’t know much about Simeon except that “the Holy Spirit rested on him and it had been revealed that he would not see death before he had seen the Messiah” (verses 25-26). We picture Simeon as an old man (matching elderly prophetess Anna) holding this new baby; it is an image of the generations meeting, of the ancient promises about to be fulfilled in this young child. What are we to take from the juxtaposition of ages in this meeting? What similarities or differences do you notice between the stories of Simeon and Anna to Zechariah and Elizabeth from the last chapter? Why is it important for Luke to show Jesus’ connections to the old Jewish community? How will he continue and challenge the traditions he is born into?
- “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,” begins Simeon’s song. In effect he is saying that now that he has seen his Lord, he can die at ease. This is the moment he has been waiting, praying, longing for – we don’t know for how many years, even decades. Is there anything in your life so monumental that you can imagine anticipation and patience like Simeon’s? Sometimes we are given the opportunity for ‘closure’ at the end of our lives; sometimes death comes much too suddenly to settle all our affairs. How prepared are you for that possibility? What important business, paperwork, or conversations would you need to conclude to be “dismissed in peace”?
- Rather like the meeting of old and young in this story, we are used to frequently seeing cartoons of ‘ancient Father Time’ and ‘baby New Year’ as representations of the calendar turning. When is it helpful to think of the New Year as a fresh start? When is it not helpful? What lessons and wisdom did you gain in 2020 that you want to hold on to in 2021? What grievances or griefs do you want to let go? What sort of prayers are beginning your new year?
I pray that God will bless each of you richly in 2021!
Pastor Maggie Rust