Luke 2: 25-26, 29-32
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah …
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
My friend Laurie is both a pastor and a tireless advocate for LGBTQ people in the church. She told me that God once spoke to her like God had spoken to Simeon. God made a promise that she would not see death until her denomination, the United Methodist Church, became an inclusive, accepting church for people of all gender and sexual identities and expressions. Like Simeon, she took courage to continue working for justice and goodness because of God’s promise.
I love Laurie, but I’m not sure my faith works like hers, or Simeon’s. It terrifies me to think that God’s salvation, healing, or peace might be in any way connected to my life or death. I’m afraid that if that were true God might expect me to actually do something. I’m more of a cheer-God-on-from-the-sidelines Christian, less of a go-tackle-evil-myself type.
God’s promise to Simeon is too frightening to believe; accordingly, most of the time I prefer to leave it on the shelf of uncomfortable Bible verses, right up there with “forgive your enemies.”
But despite my fear, I am drawn to Simeon’s prayer. I am drawn to the openness of vision in his prayer for dismissal. He prays, “You have prepared [Your salvation] in the presence of all peoples.” He says that God has been at work and it hasn’t been a secret. God has been bringing about salvation and reconciliation already, in the presence of all people. And that, somehow, makes an overly grand, and scary, promise feel more manageable for me.
Even if God hasn’t spoken to me like God spoke to Laurie or Simeon, God has made promises. God has covenanted to bring about God’s reign as revealed in Jesus Christ. God has promised Good News. And, God is already at work.
God’s work isn’t a secret. Knowing that goodness has been promised means that we can work for good with hope—here and now—just like Simeon and Laurie. And for right now, that’s promise enough to challenge my stubbornness and move me to action.
Here’s a prayer for today: Holy One, confound our excuses, challenge our stubbornness, stir our souls. Invite us in again toward Your Saving Love already at work. Amen.
Today’s devotional comes from Billy Kluttz. Billy works as Evening Service Coordinator at Immanuel. You are invited to worship with Immanuel in the Evening on Sundays at 5:30 pm.