Christmas 1 – New Year’s Eve
December 31, 2006
The Secret is Told!
Introduction: Now that Christmas has come, all the secrets are out to the joy of everyone. Or, are they? Christmas is clothed with mystery – what is the meaning of the virgin birth, the star in the East, an angel’s message to shepherds, a choir of angels singing in the night? Now is the time to see what it is all about. Simeon and Anna in their final years see the secret that explains all in a child - less than six weeks old, being carried into the temple for dedication to God. Simeon and Anna serve as models for us today to understand the true meaning of Christmas – to gain the secret of Christmas we, like Simeon and Anna, must:
Ø Be looking for a Savior
Ø Be in the right place
Ø Be spiritually receptive
Ø Be guided by the Spirit
Be looking for a Savior – V.25 “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
The people of our world habitually seek to find the Savior - yet they hunt for Him where He never will be found. The world seeks a savior which mirrors its own sinful center. Today, the children of men are seeking a savior which bears their own reflection. People of this world today covet what feels good, what is desirable to the eyes, what makes one look good, sophisticated, - and wise. The world seeks pleasure, comfort, - and no commitments. The world desires rigor without submission - Orthodoxy without obedience. This world will attempt to invent its own custom religion with “God” defined as whatever fulfills your needs. The lost souls of this sorry world are forever seeking joy and peace; yet, all the while insistent of the freedom to make whatever choices one desires, - still demanding independence from any unpleasant consequences.
But this is the amazing thing about our Savior - He chooses to be found in those places the world would least expect. He chooses to reveal Himself in those places the world considers unimportant. He chooses to exert His power in what an unbelieving world considers weak and of little importance.
Transition: Anna and Simeon were looking for the Savior. They were at the right place to receive Him.
2. Be in the right place – V. 27 “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,”
The right place to receive and find the Lord is to be open to Him, and then to receive Him in faith. Where do we find the Savior today? We find Him in those places only the Father has promised we would find Him. We find Him in His message of the Gospel. We find Him in the reading of the Inspired Word. We find Him the waters of Holy Baptism. We find Him in His Meal, in His Word of Absolution, and hidden away in our own hearts.
If you are seeking Christ this Christmas season and in the New Year you will find Him only in those places the Father has promised He would be found. The Shepherds, Simeon, and Anna found Him – “just as it had been told unto them”. Why then, should you expect anything different?
Transition: Anna and Simeon were looking for the Savior. They were at the right place to receive Him. They were spiritually receptive.
3. Be spiritually receptive – Vv. 25, “Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
God is completely responsible for your salvation, from front to back. We don’t one day simply wake up and decide to follow Jesus – instead He plants the seed of faith in our heart. He then nourishes that faith by giving us His eternal Word which is able to make us wise unto salvation.
That seed of faith is demonstrated by how we live and treat one another. That’s what you as families do, [either in you immediate family or in our Friedheim family] especially as you care for our elderly – tending to their physical needs - especially in the last months and weeks of life. When you do this, your service and care takes on a spiritual dimension – you are preparing them for their entry into eternity. Reminding them of the grace of God found in Jesus Christ our Redeemer – who came into this world at Christmas to be our Savior from sin.
One day Jesus happened to visit a family in mourning; the family of Mary and Martha, who were grieving over the loss of their brother Lazarus. As Jesus spoke with them He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Then, He asked them a question, “Do you believe this?” 
This is the question we each must ponder…
Is Jesus the resurrection and the life? The testimony of Scripture is undeniable. The early disciples simply said, “We are witnesses of these things!”
Do you believe – that whoever believes in Jesus, even though they die will live and not die?
Scripture does not tell us for how long after this encounter that Anna and Simeon would live. We’re told from Scripture that they were old and advanced in years, and it probably wasn’t too many years before they were translated into glory. Because Anna and Simeon were spiritually receptive, Simeon was moved to pray a simply yet powerful prayer. It is a prayer you and I sing at every communion service. It is a wonderful prayer for you and I to pray as we close out an old year and anticipate a new year, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Whether you are young or old, - it doesn’t matter - if you believe these words, you, like Simeon of old, are spiritually receptive and well prepared to be received into glory when our King comes. Believing this reality – that you are a sinner, but also that Christ is compassionate who has promised to forgive our sins – all who have gone before us, dying in the faith, they are alive this day, they are well, they are at peace, they are whole – and if we have this same faith we will see each other again – never to be separated by time, distance, or space.
Transition: Anna and Simeon were looking for the Savior. They were at the right place to receive Him. They were spiritually receptive, for they were guided by the Spirit.
4. Be guided by the Spirit – V.27 “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts…”
Three of the hardest words to pray make up the 2nd petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come” The reason we find these words so difficult is because we so often want to force God’s kingdom to come, or for it to be done according to our own agendas and plans. It’s what some folk call “playing church.” We want things done “my way!” That’s why we have to pray the 3rd petition, “Thy will be done, Lord!”
To assure us that God’s kingdom will happen God’s way, we are given a wonderful promise. God’s will is being worked out in your life. How do we know this is so? He gives us His Holy Spirit. Luther would remind us in the Small Catechism, “The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.”
Conclusion; We come again to the conclusion of another Christmas season and another year. How will 2007 fare? If we take the attitude and posture of these two saints; Anna and Simeon, 2007 will be a banner year. Fair thee well child of God, Fair thee well. And yes, Happy New Year!
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
 See the temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6
 The premise of David Brooks’ BOBO’S IN PARIDISE © 2005 Simon & Schuster
 Luke 2:20
 John 11:25-26
 Acts 3:15; 5:32; 10:39
 Divine Service, Setting Three from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis pp. 199-200
 The Small Catechism from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis pg. 324