“Live and in person” Advent devotion for December 21, 2020. Read Luke 2:22-33 and Psalm 24.
“And [Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God.” (Luke 2:27-28)
Simeon is one of those fascinating people in the bible that we know little about. We never hear of him before this and never hear about him again. But he was definitely an Advent kind of guy, watching and waiting for the Christ. Simeon had the unique promise from God that he wouldn’t die until he had seen his Savior. So this day must have been bittersweet. Imagine the joy of seeing the Christ, live and in person! And imagine how it felt to know you can now plan your funeral.
Each year on All Saints Day, I talk about all the members of our church who have died over the last year. That’s a bittersweet moment. Each one had been sitting in the congregation, worshiping with us just months before. I had officiated at their funerals. And now they see their Lord face to face, live and in person. So we both mourn and rejoice, comforted by the truth that our Lord always takes his lambs in his arms and brings them home.
Whenever we gather for worship, there is always the possibility that someone there will get to know Jesus for the very first time. That’s why we never fail to proclaim the gospel which brings us face to face with Jesus the Christ. There is also the possibility that it will be someone’s last time in church, for it will be their time to encounter Jesus face to face. That’s why we never fail to proclaim the gospel, because it affirms that amazing truth.
I guess we all come to church because we want to catch a glimpse of Jesus. We want to see him through the eyewitness accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. We want to see him in the sacrament. We long to see his body, the church. And yes, we even long for that day when he takes us from this valley of sorrows to himself in heaven.
Jesus’ death had been planned a long time ago, before the creation of the world. He would breathe his last on the cross and others would take him in their arms, eyes filled with tears. In just a few days, though, they would see him again, live and in person, the resurrected Christ. From that moment on, the reality of their death would not be something to fear, but something to look forward to. That day when they would see him again, face to face, live and in person.
Thank you, Lord, for holding my life in your hands. What a day that will be, when I get to see you face to face! Amen.