St Michael’s, Sunday, February 4th 2018
All Age Worship
Reading – Luke 2:25-38
(We viewed an extract from the Lumo DVD of Luke 2 – see sample here)
Our memory verse for the day was Psalm 130:5 …
I wait for the Lord,
My soul waits,
And in his word,
I put my hope.
We’re all waiting for something, young and old alike … a birthday, a holiday, a visit from the family, pay day, Christmas (yes, Christmas … it’s only 324 days away!). But how we wait depends on what we’re waiting for …
Let me ask you a question – how does it feel when you’re waiting for your birthday to arrive, or Christmas is just around the corner? When you’re waiting to open your cards and presents? Anyone?
Does it make a difference when you know you have a long wait, you’ve only just had your birthday and it’s a year until the next one … and next Christmas is 324 days away?
Do you forget about it, get on with your life and do something else? Or what? What happens when you’re waiting for a long time?
In our video this morning we met two characters, Simeon and Anna … two elderly people who were waiting. And Luke makes it clear that they had waited a long time.
Now, I know that the younger you are, the harder it is to wait. Those of us that are rather older, are much more practiced at waiting … we know that Christmas comes round every year, and that the family will eventually get in touch when they want something … and we know too that waiting can lead to disappointment … that unwanted birthday present, the jumper that’s too big, socks you don’t like or a scent you are allergic to … or your uncle forgetting your birthday altogether.
But, if your uncle doesn’t usually forget your birthday … and he buys the best presents … you go on waiting, to see if it’s delayed in the post, because you’re sure sure that it will turn up eventually and that it will be worth waiting for.
What were Simeon and Anna waiting for, that they waited patiently for so long? Luke tells us … v25, ‘He (Simeon) was waiting for the consolation of Israel’ … hmm, we’ll come back to that, but for now look on to v38, ‘… she (Anna) gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.’
The consolation of Israel and the redemption of Jerusalem … it’s old fashioned language, but quite simply it means God’s comfort and God’s promises. In Simeon and Anna’s day, their nation was occupied by the Roman army, but they knew, because they read their Bibles, that God had other plans … and knowing that he had always done what he said, they trusted that one day, God would act to change things, that he would send someone to rescue them … and knowing God, they knew that it would mean more than simply defeating the Romans.
So they waited. They didn’t give up hope, or keep themselves busy doing other things, they waited … patiently but expectantly, always looking out for signs that things were about to change, that God was about to step in … so that when, that day in the Temple, they saw a baby … just a baby, not a royal baby, or a baby whose parents were rich or influential, just an apparently ordinary baby, they knew … they knew that this baby was God’s plan. How did they know?
Quite simply, God told them, through his Holy Spirit … and their joy, after waiting all this time, was so great they couldn’t help but tell everyone else!
We are all waiting – yes, for a birthday, or a holiday, or a party … but as part of the family of the church we’re waiting for something much greater … Jesus promised that one day he will return, and that we will spend eternity with him … and although we don’t know exactly what it will be like, we do know that it will exceed all our hopes and dreams.
So let me tell you a few things about waiting for God:
Waiting for God isn’t blind faith, it’s reality. The Bible is a reliable document that shows just how God keeps his word – and that when he makes a promise, he fulfils it.
Waiting is active, and involves preparation. Simeon lived a righteous and devout life, he was obedient to God’s word. Anna spent all her time worshipping, fasting and praying. They were determined to be ready when God put his plan into action, and they were constantly watching for signs that he was doing so.
We choose how to wait. We can’t rush it, we can’t make it happen, so we trust, we keep watch, we get ready … living as we would like Jesus to find us when he returns. So, we can anticipate with joy or with fear, if we know that we have let him down and not bothered to put things right.
Waiting needs vision, revelation – we need to know that it’s worth waiting for; so we read our bibles, go to church, learn as much as we can about God’s plans and purposes, and how he wants us to live.
Because waiting also needs patience, and patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit – the gifts and skills God gives us in order to live life for him.
Waiting also needs assurance, certainty, else it’s easy to give up … are we confident in God’s word? Have we seen him at work, do we know that he can be trusted? Giving thanks reminds us what God has already done so that we can trust him for the future, so giving thanks in prayer is an essential part of waiting for the believer.
Remember, we’re waiting for something better … what’s the best thing you can imagine happening to you? Being rich, meeting a film star, even being famous yourself, winning an Oscar, scoring a goal for England or a century at Lord’s? We are waiting for something far, far better than we can ask or imagine …
How do we learn to wait? Practice! There are no shortcuts …
Simeon had vision, was obedient, righteous, devout.
Anna was constant, thankful, persistent.
As we wait, can we combine the excitement and anticipation of the young with the patience and hope of maturity?
OHP – Psalm 130:5