Friday, December 17, 2010

Now I See My Salvation -- Advent Blog Tour (CEB)

A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said, “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, because my eyes have seen your salvation. You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.” His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him.   [Luke 2:25-33 (CEB)]



Known to many by the Latin title of a canticle that expresses the joyous response of an elderly man to the presence of the child he had spent his life seeking. This is the Song of Simeon, or the Nunc dimittis. As we ponder this beloved passage of Scripture, as it is rendered in contemporary English (Common English Bible), it is appropriate to also hear it in a more traditional voice, in this case the Book of Common Prayer, where it serves a canticle or hymn for Evening Prayer:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.
For mine eyes have sseen: thy salvation;
Which thou hast prepared: before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Now, let me depart in peace, for I have seen your salvation, as was promised according to your word. The journey has come to its completion, and now Simeon can rest in peace.

The story of Simeon, which only Luke tells, is told in the context of a visit to the Temple by Mary and Joseph after the birth of their child. Simeon isn’t the only elderly person who has been seeking this child. Luke also tells of Anna, who “never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day” (Lk 2:37 CEB). Anna may not be in this particular passage that stands before us, but the stories of Simeon and Anna are reminders to us that we are to honor the commitments made by those who have devoted their lives to faithfully serve God. In both cases, these two individuals had spent their lives seeking after God’s salvation. They had not lost hope, even thought the months gave way to the years. Simeon gives his blessing and Anna offers her testimony to all who will listen.

This passage is a reminder of the blessings of perseverance in faith. Both Simeon and Anna devote their lives to the pursuit of God. They saw their salvation in this little child, who provided a sense of hope for tomorrow. They could leave this life knowing that there would be restoration. And in Simeon’s song there is also the hint that this message of wholeness and peace wasn’t limited to only Israel, but to the world itself. For this child would be a light to the Gentiles.

Christmas has not yet overtaken Advent. We’re still waiting and preparing for that day, but today’s text speaks from after the Christmas event, beckoning forward on the journey. It calls us beyond the manger, to the cross and then to the resurrection. In this, the full story, there is good news. May we continue on our journey in hope, persevering to the end, knowing that we too shall see our salvation.

This meditation is offered as part of the Common English Bible Advent Blog Tour




3 comments:

Authentic Light said...

How wonderous that Simeon and Anna could believe that profoundly based only on seeing a peasant infant in the Temple. They intuitively grasped the whole, so to speak, when all they could see was one small part. Thank you for reminding us that we have seen our salvation in Christ.

Katie Z. said...

I love that this passage, heard in Advent, also strengthens our ability to wait patiently... and even before we see the full realization of the promise, to die in peace.

Caspian Rex said...

I enjoyed how you related the text of the CEB back to the more traditional Nunc Dimittis of the Book of Common Prayer. Well done.