Simeon’s Song | By Alan Sherouse
Week 4, Day 27 | December 25
“Simeon took the child Jesus in his arms and praised God…” – Luke 2:38
361 days ago, I held my youngest son, Warner, for the first time.
That’s what today’s passage is about – holding a baby.
I wonder what it was like for Simeon. Simeon was a man in Jerusalem so open to the movements of the Spirit that the Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah (not a bad deal!). Some forty days after Jesus’ birth, long after the music had stilled and the shepherds had gone home, Simeon came into the temple guided by the Spirit. Mary and Joseph can sense the Lord’s Spirit upon him, so they offer their son to this faithful servant.
Luke says that Simeon “took him in his arms,” and the text is very clear about the posture here. Literally, it says his elbows were bent. His arms relaxed. Hands open. Palms upward.
More than the way you hold a baby, from ancient times this posture has signified gratitude. It represents a willingness to receive the good gifts of God. Among those who practice contemplative prayer, this is known as a posture to receive. Simeon doesn’t take the baby. He receives. In fact, throughout Christian history, Simeon has been known by the title “The God Receiver.”
Not long after he’s born, the world that receives Jesus will begin to change its posture. We’ll become aggressive and anxious. We will try to get our arms around him, so that he fits our hopes for him. We’ll try to grasp him, so he’ll remain still instead of compelling us forward to places we wouldn’t choose to go. We’ll try to clutch him near to us, so he loves what we love and hates what we hate. We’ll want him to fit all our categories and expectations. And when he doesn’t, we’ll corporately grab hold of him and lead him to a hill outside Jerusalem.
We grab so readily and forget so easily that the posture with which we receive a baby is also the posture with which we receive Christ in this world still. This Christmas Day, for Christ’s sake and for our own, let’s resist the reflex to clutch or grasp. Bending our elbows and opening our palms, let’s receive this gift and say with Simeon, “My eyes have seen your salvation.”
PRAYER: (With palms open and elbows bent) God, I receive the gift of your son, born into this world. Help me to remain open to the gifts he offers me and the places he leads me this Christmas Day, and every day. Amen.
Alan Sherouse: Husband to Jenny, Father to Jack/Della/Warner, and Pastor
of First Baptist, Alan is also one still seeking to hold the gifts of God with an open hand.