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Forgive us our Christmases

Christmas 2021 is nine days away! 

Have you heard the prayer, “Father, forgive us our Christmases, as we forgive those who Christmas against us”? 

I hope you don’t need to pray that prayer of mercy for yourself or toward others, but chances are you do, or you will, by the time we get to December 26.

So far, I have attended three Christmas Presentations and watched two Hallmark Christmas movies. The five landed on a spectrum from OK to outstanding. 

But none of them compare with the beauty, simplicity, and life-changing power of the Christmas story in Luke 2. Let me review three postcards in that chapter.

Postcard 1: Joseph and Mary

Luke 2:21–25 tells of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus eight days after his eternity-changing birth. 

This might be called the baby’s first “outing,” always a big deal for a new baby. God has a sense of humor. 

Jesus’ conception was miraculous. His birth was messy. Scholars believe Mary was a teenager. Let’s guess she was fifteen! Joseph might have been in his early twenties. Faith among teens and young adults in our day may be waning, but not for this couple. They were caught up in God’s story. 

Their response to revelation and invitation is one of trust and simple obedience. Here, they keep following. They come to do what the Law prescribed for a firstborn son: circumcision, dedication, offering. Their peasant offering, two pigeons, reveals their simple status and reminds us of the widow who offered “all she had.” 

Being “nobodies from nowhere Nazareth” points us to the response we should have. Trust God, obey the last thing he told you to do, look to Scripture for guidance, and let God put the pieces of your obedient faith into his story as he desires.

Postcard 2: Simeon

The second snapshot gets a little postcard and sermon time. 

Simeon is a character who maybe pastors can relate to. He’s a waiter in both meanings of the term: he waits on people as a servant of God and he’s been waiting on God to fulfill a promise that is both prophetic for the world and personal for him. 

I think we pastors sense something like that in our calling.  

He’s also an example for pastors. Being “righteous and devout” before God ought to be our daily ambition. Simeon was waiting for “Israel’s consolation” or comfort. He believed that when God showed up, things would change. Things would get better for the people of faith and hope. 

It also says the “Holy Spirit was on him.” That’s a pregnant statement. I wonder if he knew when the Holy Spirit was or wasn’t “on” him. I wonder if I do! 

The longer I’m a Christ-follower, the more I long for it to be true every moment. I heard Anne Graham Lotz say a few years ago, after the death of her husband and the impending death of her dad, “All I want any more is Jesus.”  

I think Simeon spoke something like that under his breath and God promised it to him. In a likely crowded courtyard, the Spirit led this senior saint to exactly the right couple and their divine child. Now filled with overflowing satisfaction and death-readying joy, Simeon burst out in praise like the angels and the shepherds had eight nights earlier. Then he blessed Jesus’ earthly parents and prepared Mary for what was ahead. 

How can you and I be a worshiping waiter like Simeon?

Postcard 3: Anna

The last snapshot is even smaller, just a thumbnail in the Christmas story of an old widow named Anna, short for Hannah. To challenge our views about ministry leadership, the text says she was a “prophetess.” It uses no such word about Simeon! Jesus was already drawing women and exalting their value in God’s kingdom in a culture that sometimes abandoned baby girls at the city landfills in disappointment that they weren’t boys.

Living through and past heart-crushing disappointments in her earlier life, Anna had taken a position of desperation for God. At least eighty-four, she’d held that position for decades! She stood out in her day because of her age. Few lived as long. 

She stood out even more that day for her deep gratitude for what God was now doing and for her delightful witness! God revealed his Son to her. Her humble response was thanksgiving and testimony. Like the theme of The Chosen Christmas movie, Anna had the sense, “Everyone must know!” 

Let’s join her in her thankful witness to a world in desperate need of Jesus!