Given at Colonial Church for Lessons & Carols on December 16th, 2018. I wrote this while listening to “Alleluia” from Giulio Caccini as performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. William Hughes fashioned an arrangement of the piece especially for Lessons and Carols at Colonial, which immediately followed my lesson. I’d encourage you to listen to the song as you read my lesson. You can listen to the whole service online (with all of the beautiful music and lessons from my colleagues).
Luke 2:25-35 (NRSV)
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
What does it mean to wait for consolation from suffering inside of a history that spans generations? Advent hope and longing for the promise yet to be realized, while still we wait and hope through the night, clinging to the promise in our hearts, the flicker of a love that reminds us—no matter the terror, no matter the pain, no matter the revolution appearing impossible, in the end of all things love will rise again, love will heal, love will restore.
Yet we long for that which is not yet ours as Israel waited and longed through the long winter’s nights of oppression and occupation: “Where, oh God, where is your light?”
And as is true of history, the political intersects with real of our lives…where a mother is told that her son will cause the rising and fall of many, and that he will be opposed.
Her heart is pierced, and so is ours.
Not only in the longing and the waiting for fulfillment of the promise, but in the risk of loving, our hearts are pierced, yet still we come, hands open, desperate for the freedom and coming of this salvation. Praying:
Oh God, hold us through the night. Gird our hearts that we might wait through the longest of nights. We come with all that we are, and all that we have, with our hands open to love. We fall and kiss the ground as we find our hands empty and our hearts desperate with longing to know the breaking dawn of your kingdom come.
For those in need of this great light, for those fleeing home in search for freedom and justice in new lands, for those of us who cry out as we await your salvation…we pray that our children may likewise revel the thoughts of many as your kingdom breaks forth in the dawning of the mourn…
Our hearts are pierced, yet still for this consolation we long:
Come. Come. Come oh Emmanuel, come. Save and rescues us.
Shalom. Shalom. Shalom.
Emmanuel, come. Alleluia.