What happened to the Shepherds? Last time we came for worship there were shepherds with baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Now all we have is the three of them.
This is the first Sunday after Christmas. Our lesson for today is about Jesus being presented at the Temple in Jerusalem. While they were in the Temple, a man named Simeon met them. God promised him that he would not die until he saw the promised Messiah.
Simeon came up to them and said words that have been part of the Liturgy of the Church for most, if not all, of Christian history. He said, “Lord now let Your servant depart in peace according to Your Word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
We sing these words after we receive Jesus’ presence in His body and blood, given us in the Sacrament of the Altar. We too have seen the salvation God accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We have experienced the presence of Jesus in the Sacrament He left us. We too are prepared, by faith in Jesus, to enter into God’s heavenly kingdom, and enjoy its blessings forever. All this we know because Jesus died and rose for us. This was the mission He came as a child to accomplish.
Simeon also predicted that this child would be the rising and fall of many in Israel.
He then told Mary that “a sword will pierce your soul also.” This would come true when Mary saw her Son and Savior die on the cross for her sins, and the sins of the world.
Woman now behold your Son on the cross expiring. Rest assured that He has won, curb your heart’s desiring. Bear the sword you now must feel, piercing soul with sorrow. Satan is beneath His heel, bringing joys’ tomorrow.
A woman named Anna also saw Jesus and spoke about Him to the people in the Temple. She, like Simeon, bore witness to who Jesus is and why He came. God calls us to speak the truth of Jesus to our generation. Jesus came to save sinners. We sinner/saints are called to witness to our generation of sinners that Jesus is God come to save them. This is not often easy, but vital for them to live forever in heaven. Our desire is that all we see and know come to faith and join us in heaven by God’s grace through faith.
O Savior, child of Mary, who felt our human woe; O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know; Bring us at last, we pray, to the bright courts of heaven, and to the endless day. "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming: verse 4, Lutheran Service Book.