Becoming little children
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." (Luke 2:28-32)
I think that one of the loveliest things one can do is to take a new born baby in one’s arms. For me it is one of those moments in life when one is completely filled with wonder. How precious is this little bundle, with its tiny toes and fingers, it’s delicate head and mouth and nose and ears and its body wrapped in a blanket or sheet all helpless and totally dependent on those who carry it, those to whom this little wonder has been entrusted.
I was watching a series about a chief police detective in Denmark. His daughter was pregnant, and she wanted his support as her mother had died. He was so caught up in solving a murder mystery that he kept missing family get togethers and phone calls. At one point when the dad finally got around to visiting his daughter, she told her dad not to bother as she couldn’t rely on him; that he had never been there for her during her life so why should she expect him to be there now when she was pregnant. However, after the murder mystery was solved, the detective retired from the Police force. There was a lovely shot of him at the end of the series being handed the newborn baby by his daughter and of him cradling the baby in his arms and looking at the baby, staring at it, as if it was the most amazing and special thing in the world. It was as if at last he had come to understand what was most important and precious in life.
Imagine being given the baby Jesus to hold. I wonder how that would feel to us knowing who we were holding in our arms?
When Simeon and Anna held Jesus in their arms they were filled with joy. Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
Having blessed Jesus’ parents Simeon said, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too."
When Anna entered the Temple, she … began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Here was the source of God’s salvation, the hope of all nations, the light of the world.
Anna and Simeon were two older people, committed to prayer, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. They took Jesus in their arms and they blessed Jesus and his parents and thanked God for whom they were holding. Their eyes had seen the salvation of God. Have we seen God’s salvation?
Thirty years later Jesus came full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit taking little children in his arms and blessing them and saying to all who would hear, “Let the little children come to me ... for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 1014-15)
What can we learn from the moment of taking a newborn, helpless baby in our arms? Who is this baby that has been given into our arms? What can we learn from this moment? Who is this Jesus who cradles us and the whole world in his arms of love, who dies and rises from the dead and who promises us the kingdom of God, the gift of eternal life, who gives us his Spirit and the wisdom and the life we seek, if we become like little children?
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation