I still remember what it felt like to be a child at Christmas. Maybe it’s because I have children myself now, albeit ones in their teens, and still see it firsthand.
I remember that sense of impatient anticipation which started off as butterflies, but soon took over your whole body until you felt you were ready to burst. All you wanted was that morning where the presents had magically appeared, the turkey was roasting away in the oven and everything felt like another, more wondrous world for just that day.
I still love Christmas. Not in the same way, but that sense of anticipation and joy is still there. The joy is now in watching the faces of others as they open their presents, in spending time with family in the midst of busy lives. And in the Christmas episode of Doctor Who. But I digress…
Simeon was a very old man, but he still had that sense of anticipation and excitement. For centuries his people had spoken of a saviour, the Messiah. Throughout captivity in Babylon, oppression by despotic kings, distraction by the priests of false gods and now during Roman occupation they waited for that one person who would finally free them. They didn’t know when, but God had promised and he always delivers.
Simeon, however, had inside knowledge. He still didn’t know when, but he knew he would live to see it. Then one day, for no reason other than a feeling that he should go, he found himself at the temple presented with a baby. And he knew.
Suddenly all that waiting, that hope, that unbounded joy burst out of him. This wasn’t a 10 year old opening an X Box, this was infinitely more important and exciting than that. Finally He was here!
This was Christmas for Simeon. Quite literally. He had been shown the Christ Himself. The Messiah. The one who would free everyone, jewellery and gentile alike. But his joy wasnt for himself, as he must have known that he would not live to see Jesus fulfil his role. Instead, Simeon’s joy was for everybody else; his people, the gentiles and all those yet to be born who would also be freed by this child.
And that includes us today. When we anticipate Christmas we are anticipating the same thing as Simeon. But He is already here. There’s no need for waiting until Christmas morning, because he’s been waiting for us to accept him as a gift for over 2000 years.
It’s time to open the present.