25 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. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
Finally, the waiting is over…Christmas is in our midst!
After all the preparations, the busy-ness, the excitement, Christmas Day has come and gone, and along with it, a lot of the intensity of the season (I hope)…but Christmas is still with us, at least until Epiphany!
When I was a kid, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was always one of the best weeks of the year (along with the first week of summer vacation); it was a time to take it easy and to just enjoy the holidays! We did not have school, and neither did my father (who was a college professor) and we would often travel during this week. Some of my favorite memories are of going to New Hampshire to visit friends of the family: tromping through the snowy woods, walking across the frozen pond, sitting by the fire after coming back inside, soggy and cold. Then sharing meals and stories with our friends as the night fell on the last few days of the year!
When I became a father I found new ways to enjoy this in-between week, as my daughter was off of school, I was often off from work, and when I did have to go into the office it was usually slow, with most of my clients’ businesses closed, and all that was left to do was wrap things up for the year. Traffic was lighter, my commute was easier, and this all meant that I got to spend more time with my daughter, playing, watching movies, or just hanging out!
It was also during this week, when I got to spend a lot of time visiting with my mother as her life came to an end…a time when we could enjoy the holidays with her and the rest of our family.
Like Simeon in the temple, now that the Word of God’s love has been fulfilled…now that Christmas has arrived, and all the stress of preparation is over, we can go in peace! We are freed to enjoy our holiday and to celebrate our gift of new life, the gift of God’s love as given to us through the baby Jesus: God coming to us in a simple way, the only way we could understand God in our presence.
And we can share this joy with each other.
If we are fortunate, this week will be a good one for us…a time of rest, of togetherness, and celebration! At the very least, I hope it can provide a break from the busy lives we lead the rest of the year…some time off before school and work responsibilities pick up again, the commute gets tougher, and we plunge into a new year!
This is my wish for all of us for this week and every week: that we can join in Simeon’s song of praise and joy, setting aside our worries and stress for a few moments, as we gather together to share the gift of God’s love…for in that sharing, our faith only grows…and when our faith grows, we are refreshed, renewed and reformed!
Let us Pray:
God, thank you for the gift of Christ: the gift of your love alive and active in our world and in our lives!! Grant us time to enjoy this gift, while we are in the week between the holidays…let us use this time to refresh our faith and our hearts, to rest, to enjoy, and to share the celebration with our children and with others. Even for those of us who have busy weeks, let us soak up the light given to us in Christmas; as we remember that this light is given to the world through a tiny baby and the love shared in a simple stable…and once given to us, we have no choice but to carry it with us beyond Christmas and out into the world!