Most people went about their business. To most of the world, nothing seemed strange about that night. The same troubles, the same heartaches, the same anxieties, the same dead hearts, the same lost souls, the same chasm between man and God that had been for days, years, and centuries. It seemed that way to them as they drudged and muddled through their days and nights. But if they only knew Who had come to dwell among them, their lives could be forever changed.
Leanness comes in many forms, not just material. We can all feel this way sometimes even if life looks full and rich and abundant on the outside. There can be leanness in confidence about identity or value or worth. There can be leanness in health or security about the future. There can be leanness in numbers at the table if we are missing loved ones who have left us through death, or departure, or anger, or neglect.
There is a leanness a lot of us are feeling this year.
Simeon believed. He didn’t merely exist, letting the days go by unmarked, unmindful of greater things being done in the heavens, oblivious to the work the Lord was doing to prepare the world for His coming—or even discounting the prophecies, and deciding God might not be as trustworthy as he supposed. He noted the times, and he believed the prophets who said no one is like God. No one could perceive how he works. He is beyond this time and space, and as such, he is the only One who can demand we trust him as he is.
The page’s very salvation that night depended upon the life-giving warmth from his master’s passage ahead of him. This is how it is with us, for “in Christ we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Our master, our elder brother, our captain does not merely mark the way for us; it is through following him that we are quickened and warmed and made more alive, eventually confirming our hope in resurrection and eternal glory (1 Corinthians 15:23). (a repost of an article that appeared at Servants of Grace)
A life in 4 sentences. Eighty-four years summed up in about 90 words: lineage, marriage, widowhood, temple service—and an encounter with the Messiah, the redemption of Jerusalem. With just these verses, we are given only a glimpse into her life.
It is the essence of Christian love to care for the orphans and the widows, the poor in spirit and the impoverished in heart, the sick in soul, and the discouraged (James 1:27). Now is the time they need to be remembered, now when the ache is most pronounced, when the holes seem to echo. You might say it’s a holey season for them, during these weeks, when Christmas memories are triggered by smells and sights and sounds at every corner, when every occasion seems to highlight the invitations not sent, never received, because mail doesn’t get delivered into the next life.
Disappointments, slights, brokenness in life. Mistakes, but also sins, hardness of heart, dissension. Sometimes I echo Dolly’s words when she says, “I just don’t feel like I have any more hope left in me.” My heart is troubled, and my coordinates don’t register on the radar. I’m lost, with desperation rapidly closing in. How do I know he will come back for me, to take me to him?
To most of the world, nothing seemed strange about that night. The same troubles, the same heartaches, the same anxieties, the same dead hearts, the same lost souls, the same chasm between man and God that had been for days, years, and centuries. It seemed that way to them as they drudged and muddled through their days and nights. But if they only knew Who had come to dwell among them, their lives could be forever changed.
Who says Christmas has to come to a close? Who says that just because the boxes and bags get broken down and packed away for use next year that we can’t intentionally and carefully prepare beautiful presents and packages of love and ministry for others?
What is a Wenceslas, and why do we sing about it at Christmas time? What is it about this jaunty little tune by John Mason Neale that has earned it a place in the Christmas carol repertoire as well as in the hearts of many for the past 160 years — even though not a word about Christmas is mentioned anywhere in the lyrics?