June 22, 2021

Jesus and Blessing in a Faith Community 27-12-2020

27th December, First Sunday After Christmas
Jesus and Blessing in a Faith Community
(Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3 & Luke 2:22-40)
By Heeyoung Lim
Welcome to the first Sunday of the Christmas Day!
There are two speakers, the prophet (Isaiah 61:10-11; 62:1-3) and God (61:8-9) in Isaiah 61 and 62, which is related the restoration of Zion. The prophet’s mission is central to Zion’s redemption. The people of Zion will rebuild and repair ruins, not only will the city of Zion be renewed, but it will also once again indicate God’s glory. The God of Isaiah promised a great U-turn of circumstances. The speaker has been changed from God to anointed messenger Isaiah in the form of praise.
“I will not be quite until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1)
There were differences and gaps between promise toward Zion and reality of Jerusalem, but people and history meet the fulfillment of God’s promises as we encountered Jesus, the long-awaited Saviour of the world.
The mission given to Isaiah is still needed today, while Christians look forward to Christ’s Second Advent (coming of the Lord)
God uses devoted people to reveal his heavenly purposes to provide salvation and redemption for his people and for all the world. It is also presented in Luke 2.
Obediently, Mary and Joseph followed all the Jewish customs based on God’s Old Testament and they dutifully took Jesus to Jerusalem for the purification rituals to dedicate him to God as their firstborn. There was the Presentation of Jesus at the temple. (Luke 2:22)
Simeon was righteous and devout waiting for God’s divine consolation. He was God-fearing person and took God’s promises seriously. (25) He was in God’s expectations and lived in a right relationship with God. In his daily walk with God, he was led by the Holy Spirit, and he waited obediently for God to keep his promise. (25)
Simeon had seen God’s salvation Named Jesus as Mary and Joseph entered the temple with Jesus, and he gave them a blessing they did not expect. (27) The first blessing was praising God, but second blessing was about “fall and rising of many”. (34)
In Simeon’s first blessing, Jesus is God’s salvation and a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to people in Israel.” It was spoken to God reminding the fulfillment of God’s promises. (32) Mary and Joseph were amazed when they heard the blessing, but there was an unexpected blessing regarding the fall and rise too. Simeon spoke only to Mary. Jesus suffered and died, and then was raised to glory like the fall and rise blessing. We may just fall and rise, but it should not be constant falling, there would be the rising stage in Jesus.
Simeon waited for God to comfort Israel. Jesus is the comfort and consolation for which Israel waited. God’s promise was that Jesus would come before Simeon died. Simeon has waited all his life for this child, and now he can die in peace calmly and confidently. He was far from making the soul despair and he is in an experience of God’s presence and he was simply a dedicated servant of God.
Anna was a prophetess, one with great age and experience, having been married seven years and widowed eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. (38) Her life was uneventful, and her gaze was focused on only God’s salvation.
She approached the baby Jesus just as Simeon returned him to his parents and recognized what God was doing in the baby Jesus and gave thanks. (36)
Anna then turned to other worshipers and spoke her prophetic words about the child Jesus to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (36)
Simeon and Anna have waited a lifetime for perfect peace and meeting Jesus, and the blessings became a new beginning of faith Journey for Joseph and Mary as first-time parents in reminding all parents of the responsibilities.
Joseph and Mary were in some uncomfortable situations during their journey, they struggled to get to Bethlehem for the census while there was no room at the inn. Joseph stood by helpless and poor, watching Mary give birth next to animals, but a stable has been prepared by God. It was not earthly blessings. Joseph and Mary witnessed shepherds and others worship him after the divine child’s arrival in the world and took the roles and walked even in the limitations of parents’ social location. They have also experienced the fall and rise under God’s protection.
They are given a divine mission to complete in their human flesh as parents, but God had fulfilled his promise, and the salvation is not a human act, it is God’s salvation.
The story of Simeon and his interaction with the holy family reminds us of what we communicate and interact in our church. We can also think Anna was with the wisdom of age, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and a lifetime spent in the temple, and Anna’s coming forward to Jesus reminds us to come closer to people, and her testimony to the other believers and people gives a challenge to testify and spread Gospel.
In addition, there was life-long waiting and prayer from Simeon and Anna, and the emotional and spiritual investment in the child Jesus have been done in a temple. There were praising God and blessings for others from the elderly who also need to be respected and loved by others.
Jesus is son of his parents and Son of God. He is good news, Saviour, Messiah, the Lord, and the fulfillment of God’s promised redemption, cause of amazement and wonder.
However, the human Jesus grew in the ways that all children do, each step of growth preparing him to fulfill God’s eternal mission. (39)
We can bless each other like Simeon and tell everyone the good news that God has shared with us like Anna. It happened in a temple. We are called to bless each other, that is the call of faith community. God showed us the ways of blessings from a faith community where God’s faithful servants and true believers gather through worshiping God, blessing everyone, and spreading Gospel. We need more spiritual and emotional investment for our next generation and all generations because every single person needs to be blessed and loved in churches in the love of God.
Today is the first Sunday after Christmas. We will return to the ordinary circumstances of our lives but living with a new expectancy and confidence in the fulfillment of God’s purposes and the warm blessings from our church and faith communities.
I hope and pray our lives after Christmas will be transformed in accordance with God’s plan as true believers. We are a family who need to look after each other, our church is an extended family in Jesus. I think all the children are our children in Jesus and all the elderly are our parents in this extended family. I believe we have an obligation to care for those who are in need in tangible ways, so they can get up from the fall to the rise in the prayer and help from our faith community. Can we take away some burdens from our church members in some ways? Could we please pray for the sick of our congregation members more fervently? I hope we would like to come closer or visit to our congregation members and take good care of each other so that we can feel strong sense of love and belonging in Jesus and our faith community.
It is the time to have a deeper relationship with God and bless and look after each other for all generations as a new family in Jesus. I hope and pray we can be more surrounded by God’s grace and restoration, blessed, cared for, and encouraged by the church members in the combination of faithfulness just before 2021.
Thanks be to God. Amen!

Ref. Bible, Commentaries, theological books, and UCA materials