Senior Citizen Simeon’s Sermon
First Sunday in Christmas Trinity Lutheran Church
28 December 2014 Murdock, NE
+Jesu Juva +
Senior citizens do a lot of waiting, don’t they? Forevermore waiting in the waiting room for a doctor or a surgeon’s two-minute visit. Waiting endlessly for Medicare to pay the hospital bills or the direct deposit from Social Security. Waiting for the letter or Christmas card from a long-time friend. Waiting for a phone call or a visit from a family member. Sometimes the waiting is in vain. People get sidetracked. They don’t write, pick up the phone or take the time. Seniors wait for the doctors to diagnose. They wait for the medicines to medicate. The wait can be quite long. As I’m learning, the older you get the longer it takes the body to heal. Then the time eventually comes when the body stops healing and the seasoned citizen waits to … die.
We’re given two senior saints in the text today. Trifocals. Macular degeneration. Walkers. Brittle bones. Arthritis. Chronic pain up the wazoo! Fighting depression. Nursing home is calling. Hospice is right around the corner. But they’re still active in the Lord’s house, the temple, by passively listening to the sermons preached there.
They can teach us a great deal about waiting on … THE LORD … and TRUSTING HIS WORD OF PROMISE. Simeon and Anna are two seniors who waited a long time – their entire lifetimes — on the Lord. Whose hope was in the Lord’s Word. They both embodied Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
Here is where we are in need of repentance. Wait for the Lord? Put our hope in HIS WORD? Really? We wait for no one let alone the Lord. We push ahead with our agenda. We are deaf and dull to the Lord’s Word. We always speak our words first as if our words are always better than the Lord’s. We speak as if our words are infallible, without error and all powerful on every topic. We trust in our words regarding everything. Isn’t this true? Of course it is.
Ready for the nursing home Simeon and Anna, however, waited for the Lord. They put their hope in the Lord’s Word. Talk about mature Christians! Hopefully we’ll pay attention and learn from them. Our country and the church are in desperate need of such men and women.
That’s precisely why Simeon is described in the text as a “righteous and devout” man! This is exactly why we are told that the Holy Spirit was upon him. When you’re Holy Spirited you wait upon the Lord and put your hope in His Word. Simeon trusted specifically in the Lord’s promise to send the Savior of His people Israel and the Gentile world. In fact, the Holy Spirit told Simeon that he would not die until he has seen the Christ – the Savior!
Well, the years went by as Simeon waited daily at the Jerusalem temple and as he took part in the liturgy of the Old Testament’s holy days like Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Passover, Pentecost and the Day of Tabernacles. Every day there was the Word of the Lord’s promise to be God FOR THEM in the promised Messiah hooked with the morning and evening sacrifices and prayer. Day after day, month after month, year after year, Simeon waited upon the Lord and put his hope in the Lord’s word of promise to send the Savior.
Then the climactic day finally came. The waiting was over! The Holy Spirit is at work as He leads Mary and Joseph to the temple so that their paths cross with Simeon. There’s a little one in the stroller. 40 days old. Lo and behold, this Baby is the Messiah! The Promised Savior!
You grandparents know the enormous joy of holding your first grandchild in your arms. But there is more than that here when Simeon takes the Baby Jesus in his arms. Jesus is more than an ordinary baby. He is Immanuel, God with us. To save His people from their sins. The entire history of the world – the universe — has come to its pinnacle. God Himself has taken on flesh to redeem sinners. He does it through His perfect blood sacrifice offered on the Good Friday cross upon which He Himself hangs dead.
Simeon burst forth with song that no doubt echoed all through the temple. Listen carefully.
Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace; Your word has
My own eyes have seen the salvation
Which 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’s song is one of great joy! The joy of divine salvation given to sinners! It reveals the confidence a believer who waited patiently upon the Lord and who put his hope in the Lord’s promise. Now, Simeon can … DIE. He can go to the grave in PEACE, not fear, because God keeps His promises. Simeon, with his own eyes, has seen the Lord’s salvation – delivered – in the tiny, squirming, poor, 40 day old Baby Jesus!
You better hear once again the high and glorious names that Simeon applies to the Baby Jesus. They are all based on … you guessed it … the Lord’s Word. Simeon calls Jesus:
God’s Salvation. Isaiah 12:2. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and will not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation.”
The Light of the nations / Gentiles. Isaiah 9:2. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined.”
The Glory of Israel. Isaiah 46:13. “I bring near my deliverance; it is not far off and my salvation will not tarry. I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel is my glory.”
Well, brothers and sister, cradled in Simeon’s arms is God’s salvation. This Baby is God’s devil-crushing victory over sin and death. We are weak but this helpless Child is our strength. We are filled with darkness, but He is Light. We are sinful. He is the sinless One who became sin for us to give us His righteousness. Yes, the little Baby is the divine Light that shines into our darkness and opens the eyes of the blind. He opens our eyes to the Lord’s love and His desire to save even you. The little Baby is the Glory of Israel, the exact reason God had an Israel, a chosen people, so that His beloved and chosen Son would be born into this world to suffer and die on Good Friday’s cross and to rise and reign from Easter Sunday’s grave. Mary and Joseph “marveled at what” Simeon preached concerning the Baby Jesus.
Now, if you’re an unbeliever or you think Christianity and the Bible is all a bunch of …, that Christianity is to blame for all the world’s evils … and there are many that think like that – you don’t “marvel.” You mock! Simeon sounds like a senior who has dementia, who is off his meds, or who is stark, raving mad. Seriously. Jesus is “destined to cause the falling … of many in Israel [and the world] and to be a sign that will be spoken against.” Call a weak, fidgety, crying, burping baby the Salvation of God and the Glory of Israel could very well land Simeon or any preacher in the quarantined room where babies and old people are “released” in the movie The Giver.
After all, aren’t saviors supposed to be big and strong? There’s no way that such a baby can tackle or defeat all the enemies that surround us, right? The cancers, the viruses, the violence, the evil, the guilt, and death loom large over us, don’t they? What can this child do? It’s like little shepherd boy David with his pathetic slingshot against the massive, giant Goliath with his Kevlar armor and Lord of the Rings-like sword! Place your bets! And they’re all on … Goliath, right?
You don’t call a little, helpless and poor baby the Salvation of God, do you?
SIMEON DOES! He is your preacher today. Listen to him! Don’t believe your eyes. Listen with your ears. Trust God’s Word from Simeon’s mouth. Wait upon the Lord and put your hope in God’s Word!
The Child wrapped in the blanket and brought to the temple is God’s salvation FOR YOU! It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad, rich or poor, young or old, married or single. This Child has come to save you so that you too can depart / die in peace!
So, we traditionally sing Simeon’s song on two different occasions. We call Simeon’s song the Nunc Dimittis, from its first two words in Latin, “Now depart.” The Nunc Dimittis is the traditional hymn of Compline that’s on pages 258-259 in the hymnal. Compline is the prayer office for THE END or the close of the day. So, right before you go to bed – to go to sleep at night – you pray the song of Simeon: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace.”
How fitting! Climbing into bed is a practice or rehearsal for when you will put into the coffin. Sleep is a dress rehearsal for the day when you die. Waking up and getting up out of bed is the practice for the resurrection of your body on the Last Day. If I die before I wake, I know that the Baby Jesus will take care of me. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Later in history, Simeon’s song came into the Lord’s Supper’s liturgy. What a perfect place to sing the Nunc Dimittis! In the Sacrament we have heard the Lord’s own words of promise: “My body given for you; my blood shed for you.” Jesus is more present FOR YOU here in the Supper than when His little body was cradled in Simeon’s arms. Then we sing:
Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace; Your word has
So, we go to the Sacrament as though going to our death, so that when we go to our death it will like going to the Sacrament.
After all, this little Baby is the Savior. Your Savior. He died for you!
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
In the Name of Jesus.