“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” – Luke 2:22–32 (ESV)
Can you imagine holding God? Simeon did not have to imagine it. For Simeon, it was just another day at the temple filled with the usual people, conversations, and priestly tasks. For years he had known he would witness something, someone, the Lord’s Christ (v. 26), who would make all his work worth it. His hope was not rooted in his ambition or vain imagination. He had been told by a credible person, the Holy Spirit, that this would be a reality. Time passed. He waited. Then, one day, one normal day, it happened.
We read, he came in the Spirit into the temple, and encountered God, the child Jesus (v. 27). He must have thought this moment would have unfolded in a different way. That the Lord’s Christ would be different, look different. Yet filled with the Holy Spirit, affirming this was in fact the Lord’s Christ, he took him up (Jesus) in his arms and blessed God (v. 28). Simeon embraced God! Simeon blessed God! It was at this moment, in his everyday, the incarnation overwhelmed him to the point of song (v. 29-32). Simeon now embraced the one that his hope and the hope of the world rested in. At this very moment his life was complete, whole, and had meaning.
This year has been a time of waiting. Waiting for a vaccine. Waiting for an election. Waiting for late Amazon packages. Frontlines are different, and our everyday has been rearranged and then rearranged again. Yet, in the midst of it all there is an invitation to embrace and bless God on our frontline.
Embracing God means being so caught up in the reality of the incarnation that your whole life becomes a song, everyday worship to the Lord of the universe. This posture has whole-life implications that are manifested in the ordinary and unexpected moments of life, regardless of the place and space your new frontline now inhabits. The incarnation is a call to embrace wholeness in Christ. The incarnation is the declaration that your life has meaning in Christ. The incarnation is the restoration of hope, real hope in Christ The incarnation is the call to follow the Lord’s Christ, and incarnate his presence in your everyday.
Simeon’s response while embracing Jesus was more than just a song. It was a whole-life response. Perhaps during this season of waiting and rearrangement, we are being called to embrace Jesus, hold God, and respond with a whole-life song of our own.
Rev. Brian Bethke serves as the pastor of Middleton Congregational Church and has preached at Cornerstone. The Vere Institute (Oct 2014 – May 2021) was founded to empower Christians to integrate their faith into everyday life. The Vere Institute’s legacy lives on through our Vere Library.