My old friend Simeon

Published 8:51 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

This past Sunday I preached a sermon using an old friend. His name is Simeon, and he’s an old guy, hanging around the Temple of Jerusalem. He’s there because he is a faithful and righteous Jew, but also because the Spirit of God has promised him that he won’t die until he has seen the Messiah, God’s anointed One.

I say he’s an old friend, even though he lived a long time before I showed up. The story of Simeon, cradling the baby Jesus in his arms, comes up quite often in the Sunday after Christmas. That’s a Sunday a lot of ministers take off, leaving the pulpit for enterprising Seminary students, of which I was one, once upon a time. So my sermons about Simeon go back a ways.

As the years have gone by the story has taken on extra meaning besides all of the theological implications about the old man and the Messiah. It’s a great story to hear before, and now after, the start of a New Year.

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Why? Well, for one thing, the old man shows up. He is not sitting idly by, just waiting around. He is active, he is moving and he is in the temple, anticipating, expecting that God will show up in a baby. He is a great role model for just showing up; for being there, for making the effort to expect that God will actually do something incredible, something wonderful, something life-giving, today.

As we start a new year, what are we waiting for? What are we looking for? What is it that we are yearning to see come to pass? For some of us, it is to just make it through another grade in school. For others, it is to get our children through their latest crisis. For some, it is finding the right job that will match our talents. For some of us it is finding the right person to share our life with, while others are yearning for a sense of peace that comes with the realization that I can live alone and be happy.

What are we waiting for in the year 2018? Maybe it is not that much different from what Simeon was expecting: The special presence of God that will show up in the lives around us. It may be a special grace that will overcome dread, a love that will conquer hate, a peace that will overwhelm violence. For in all of these we may yet feel and see — and maybe be embraced by — the special presence of a God who has shown up many times before, and will do so again in your life.

REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is