Our December 27 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. All scheduled worship services until further notice will be online only with minimal in-person participation to reduce COVID-19 risks.
The January 3 Sunday worship service will be held without in-person attendance because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in our state. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
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December 27 Sermon
Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3 Psalm 148
Galatians 4:4-7 Luke 2:22-40
He’s here! But, what does that mean? True, both Mary and Joseph are told by the angel that this child is special, and the shepherds have also been given some insight into the destiny of this child, but what does all of this mean? Who knows? The answer, at this time, one week after his birth, is known only by two people: Simeon and Anna. And they are about to let everyone else in on the secrets. They discover that this child is not really going to be a secret!
It happens one week after Jesus’ birth, at the time of his circumcision and presentation (something which it is expected for parents to perform for their first born male children), and the time of Mary’s purification. Everyone had to do this. It was required by the Law of Moses. Mary and Joseph go to fulfill the Law, but they also go to fulfill something else, the command of God that the child is to be named Jesus. It was at this time that the child also received its name.
While this is going on, Simeon is told to go into the Temple. He has already been told that he would not see death until he had seen the promised Messiah. That too is fulfilled. Simeon takes the baby in his arms and prophesied. His words are sometimes called the “Nunc Dimittis,” or “Simeon’s Song.” They have been used in the Church’s liturgy since at least the 5th century. You can find it on page 93 in your hymnal. Basically, Simeon says that he can now die happy. He has seen the promise of the Lord, the Lord’s Anointed; the Messiah who he has been waiting for. Now he can die in peace. Now, this child will reveal God’s will to all people, Jew and Gentiles.
No doubt, this surprises Mary and Joseph. They were kind of broadsided by this. They had only come to do what was normally expected. This was very unexpected. They are probably worried, and in shock. But, when it is over, Simeon blesses them and well, and warns them. This was probably a bigger surprise than the angels and shepherds, who were more private. Simeon is yelling this out loud in the Temple, in front of everybody. They just came to present their firstborn in the Temple. Now, this rabbi is saying all of these things to them, and anybody that happen to be in ear shot. Mary and Joseph were probably looking for a place to hide. But the Temple was mainly all open area. It isn’t all going to be a bed of roses. Jesus will be the cause of “falling and rising of many in Israel.” Sounds very similar to lessons in Advent, “Raise the valleys and lower the mountains.” He will bring justice. Simeon also warns Mary, “a sword will pierce your own soul too.” She will experience the mission of her son as well. And, as I said the other day, I think, she never really understood it.
But this tour of events isn’t over yet. Then here comes Anna. She is an 84 year old widow, who spends all of her time in the Temple fasting and praying. She is also a prophet. She says about the same things which Simeon has said. She proceeds to talk not just to Mary and Joseph, she also tells these things to “all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Namely, she tells just about everyone who is in the Temple. Joseph and Mary are by now, trying to escape. They are a young couple. They probably don’t know how to handle all of this! But, probably no one could.
Is it any wonder that Mary and Joseph high tail it to Nazareth? They are trying to get out of town, find a quiet place, and hope this all blows over. This is like being on a television reality show. It doesn’t quite blow over. “Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” Things do go quiet, for a while. But it is just another gestation period, like a pressure cooker on simmer, until the time is right. Then, Jesus will start his ministry, as a full grown man. Israel will never be the same, nor will the world.
Jesus’ ministry: The Word of God (as per John’s Gospel) will go forth, and nothing and no one will be able to stand in its way. Although some groups: Pharisees, some of the Priests, and even the Romans try. God’s Word will proceed as it is intended to do. It still does. And it will continue to do so, in spite of all odds, even pandemics. And the world is changed forever.
It all starts with a child, and a promise delivered by an angel from God to a young woman. A child, whose birth we celebrated this past week, and the promise of God, echoed by a rabbi and an old prophetess; but one tirelessly, steadily, heading towards its own fulfillment. God’s Word made flesh, God Incarnate, Emmanuel, God’s promise fulfilled and made manifest, even unto us.