Friday, December 12, 2014

The Baby who is the Hope of the World--by Linden Malk

There was an old man with a hope--his name was Simeon, and his heartfelt prayer was to see the Messiah.  One day a family came to the Temple in Jerusalem, bringing  their firstborn son to offer the redemption sacrifice commanded in the Law.  Simeon was told by the Holy Spirit that his hope was fulfilled--this baby was the Promised One, the Light to the World.  He blessed God, and the little family, prophesying that this child would bring both great joy and salvation as well as great sorrow.  There was also an old lady there in the Temple that day; her name was Anna, and she also had for many years waited for the One who would bring deliverance to Jerusalem-- praising God with all who shared her hope.*

Babies are little packages of hope. We look at a baby with hope, wondering what life holds for this little person.  The celebration of the birth of the greatest Baby ever born has taken over the world-even in places where the full reality of Him is not understood.  The enduring image of Christmas is that of the baby with Mary and Joseph, often with shepherds, angels,  wise men, and animals.  The first known living Nativity scene was the centerpiece of a Christmas Eve service in Greccio, Italy put together by St Francis of Assisi in 1223. The idea spread across Europe and later the Americas--we see it everywhere at this time of year:  live; made of every medium and artistic style you can imagine; pictures large and small. Everyone loves a baby!

Thirty-three years later, at the other end of his life, we see the One who had been this baby walking along a road,  talking with two men who told of the hopes they had had that Jesus of Nazareth was the one who would set Israel free.  They thought their hopes had been dashed by his betrayal and crucifixion, but when they recognized the living Jesus, they were more joyful than ever.**  Jesus the Risen Christ is a reality beyond our most fervent hopes!

*Luke 2:22-40 **Luke 24:13-35

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