First Sunday after Christmas (Year C - LCMS Revised Readings)
Sunday, December 28, 2003
That hymn (click to see hymn) is based on the song of Simeon from today’s Gospel reading from Luke. Simeon’s song is a song of waiting. Simeon had been told by God’s Holy Spirit that he would see the Christ, the Messiah, God’s Promised Savior. So Simeon was waiting, waiting for the consolation of Israel. His song is a song of waiting, waiting that is finally over as Simeon sees the baby Jesus, sees the One who would save God’s people from their sin.
This is a song on the lips of Simeon, but it is also a song for all who were waiting for the Lord’s Savior. Simeon waited for the consolation of Israel, the comfort of Israel. Isaiah the prophet had spoken of that comfort 700 years earlier, “comfort for those who mourn,” he says (61:2). God’s faithful people knew that God would send a Savior to help His people. Simeon sings, rejoicing to see Christ, the Christ that generation after generation of faithful people had waited to see, the Christ that was born to us on Christmas Day. Simeon’s song is our song as we turn to Christ for comfort and consolation.
Simeon’s song is the song of all who wait for the Lord. While Simeon sang and rejoiced to see Jesus, the elderly prophetess Anna gave thanks. She had been looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem, the day when One would come to pay the ransom that kept God’s people in chains, the day when One would come to release the Lord’s people from judgment. Simeon’s song is Anna’s song who looked forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Simeon’s song is our song as we turn to Christ to be released, set free, from judgment and death.
Simeon’s song is the song of all who wait for the Lord. 33 years after Simeon saw the infant Jesus, a man named Joseph of Arimathea gave up his tomb for the body of the crucified Jesus. Joseph was waiting, we are told by Luke, waiting for the Kingdom of God. For those brief 3 days, the consolation of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, was in Joseph’s tomb before He burst forth in victory. Simeon’s song is Joseph’s song who waited for the Kingdom of God. Simeon’s song is our song as we wait for Christ to bring His Kingdom and victory one final time.
Simeon’s song is the song of all who wait for the Lord. Simeon, Anna, and Joseph waited for the Lord, but the ancient prophets waited too. The prophet who wrote Lamentations upon seeing the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 587 BC said,
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD (3:24-26).
The prophet says the Lord is his portion, his treasured possession, his share of the land. There isn’t something better than the Lord’s salvation; therefore, the prophet will wait for the Lord, wait for the best. Simeon’s song is the song of the prophet who lamented over Jerusalem but still waited for the Lord. Simeon’s song is our song as we wait for the Lord, ignoring other offers, knowing that the salvation of Christ is a most treasured possession.
Simeon’s song is the song of all who wait for the Lord. The ancient prophet Micah waited too. Despite the misery of Micah’s life, despite seeing the Northern Kingdom of Israel fall into enemy hands, Micah said,
But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me (7:7).
Many had deserted the Lord. They were no longer waiting for Him; they were trying to find hope elsewhere. But Micah remained steadfast, keeping his eyes focused on God. Simeon’s song is Micah’s song who watched in hope for God’s salvation. Simeon’s song is our song as we focus on Christ, even when others look for help in other places.
Simeon’s song is the song of all who wait for the Lord. The ancient prophets of the Old Testament waited for the Lord, but the followers of Jesus also wait, as we see in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul rejoices that God has given the Christians in Corinth so many spiritual gifts, and then he says,
Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (Chapter 1).
The believers eagerly wait for Christ to return. Even as Simeon waited on the steps of the temple, waited and anticipated seeing the Savior, so too the believers eagerly wait for Christ to come again, come to bring His people to eternal life. And Paul encourages the believers saying that God is faithful, God will keep them strong to the end. The song of Simeon will be the song of the believers when they see Christ return. The song of Simeon will be our song when the wait is over and Christ has come back again.
Simeon’s song is the song of all who wait for the Lord. God’s people wait for Him even now in the throne room of God. The believers who have gone before us into death are gathered underneath the altar of God in heaven, as we are told in the book of Revelation. The believers cry out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (6:10). Those believers who have gone before us into death are waiting, waiting for the day when Christ will return and bring this world to an end, waiting for the resurrection of the body, waiting for the new life on a new earth, waiting for Christ to come again. Simeon’s song will be the song of the believers who will rejoice to see God’s salvation. Simeon’s song is our song as we wait for Christ to come again and bring new life, eternal life.
Simeon’s song is the song of all who wait for the Lord. And those who wait have received great news. The Lord has come! The Lord is here! The Lord was born to Mary, born to set us free. That is what the ancient prophets waited to hear, wanted to hear, that the Savior had come into the world. That is what Simeon had been told he would see, and indeed, on that day when Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus came to the temple, that day Simeon’s wait was over.
So Simeon’s song is our song, because the wait is over. The Savior has been revealed to us too. Jesus has been revealed as God’s Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One, the Anointed One, and this Good News has been passed down to us in the Word of God. So we sing this hymn, Simeon’s song today.
And yet, the believers continue to wait. There will come a day when the believers will sing Simeon’s song again, and the wait will truly be over. We celebrate the birth of Christ with Simeon. More than Simeon, we can celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, but even so, Simeon’s song will only truly be fulfilled when Christ returns again, when Christ raises all believers from the dead, when Christ creates a new world for the new eternal life that He will give to His people. Then, and only then, will we truly see the salvation that has been prepared by the Lord in the sight of everyone.
Yet, even as Simeon could say that he departed in peace, so we may now go with great peace and joy. Simeon walked away from the temple that day, he went forth into his daily life, knowing that the Savior had come. Simeon knew he could depart, he could die in peace knowing that God would save Him. So too we can sing Simeon’s song. We go forth in our daily lives, rejoicing in God our Savior, and we go forth, depart, die in peace, knowing there is life after death.
Waiting for the Lord is waiting for God to fulfill His promises. Waiting for the Lord is trusting His promises. The ancient prophets trusted those promises. Simeon trusted those promises. Anna trusted those promises. Paul and the believers with him trusted those promises. The believers underneath the altar of God trust the Lord’s promises. When we sing Simeon’s song, we declare that we are waiting and trusting in God’s promises.
We rejoice that God has kept His Word, kept His promise, and sent His salvation into the world. God has revealed His plan of salvation to the whole world. Jesus has come. Jesus has been proclaimed. We have heard the news. Christ has opened salvation to the whole world. Simeon’s song is our song as we sing with great joy.
We sing with Simeon: Christ has come! We give thanks with Anna: Christ has come! We rejoice to see God’s salvation that has come into the world at Christmas.
And yet we still wait, wait with the believers, wait with those who have gone before us, we wait saying: Christ will come again! And when He comes we will gather again and we will sing Simeon’s song with full gusto and celebration, going forth into eternal life with great peace and joy, His Word will be fulfilled and is a promise true!
When we sing Simeon’s song, we celebrate with Simeon: the wait is over, Christ is here, we have salvation. And yet we also sing Simeon’s song knowing we still wait for Christ to come again and truly set us free in eternal life. Let us sing stanza 1 again of Simeon’s song, celebrating and waiting.