Hope, comfort and peace to you as we enter 2021!
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
2020 has been a year like no other!
As I reflected on this year I was drawn to the story of Simeon and Anna told in Luke 2:25-38. Simeon and Anna were two elderly and devout people of God who were waiting and longing for the arrival of the Lord’s Messiah. About 40 days after his birth Jesus was brought to the Temple to be presented to the Lord in an act of dedication. Simeon was guided by the Spirit to the temple that day, and Anna was already there. Luke says she never left the temple “but worshiped there with fasting and prayer day and night.” (v.37)
Simeon and Anna immediately recognized the significance of Jesus. Simeon saw Jesus first and took him in his arms. We can imagine an elderly man, with a white beard and failing eyesight, reaching out his wrinkled hands to gently touch the newborn child. Mary hands him the baby the old man cradles new life. Simeon may have had failing physically sight but his spiritual vision was 20/20. As Simeon held Jesus Anna came close, praised God and began to speak about the child. Both Simeon and Anna saw Jesus for who he was!
As we read the story we are reminded of who Simeon and Anna spiritually see. They see Jesus as the one who will console their people. Simeon and Anna, along with the nation of Israel, was longing for consolation. They needed comfort, relief, compassion, and hope! When Simeon held Jesus he knew within his being that the comfort needed had come. That comfort, embodied in the human baby Jesus, became God’s gift of salvation! Simeon and Anna could clearly see, that in and through Jesus, redemption, deliverance, rescue, salvation had come! And would continue to come. They realized that in Jesus light had come to invade the darkness!
28 Simeontook [Jesus] in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servantin peace, according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2)
Like Simeon and Anna we have longed for consolation and light this year; we have longed for comfort and hope. Much of that longing has come because of the restrictions and health challenges caused by the current pandemic. The pandemic has resulted in a struggle to maintain physical, social, emotional, relational and mental health. It has felt some days like the journey through 2020 has been difficult and long. We have longed for freedom from this virus and all its impacts.
But that longing for comfort and light has come for other reasons too. We have grieved the death of loved ones this year. We have faced the challenges of sickness, disease and aging bodies. We have struggled with relational conflict. We have all needed consolation/comfort for one reason or more.
It’s my prayer that you have been reminded through this Christmas season that God has come and continues to come as one who brings comfort, salvation and light! Jesus was and is who Simeon and Anna, and so many others, believed he was! Jesus is, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9.6). Jesus is “Emmanuel which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus is our comfort/consolation! (Luke 2:25)
As I reflect back on this year that has reinforced our need for comfort, hope and light I realize how that comfort has come to us in so many wonderful ways. It has come through the extra phone calls and video chats we made and received. It has come through Zoom worship that we have faithfully continued to join even when we experienced Zoom fatigue. I know seeing the faces and names of the members of our family of faith has brought so much needed comfort. Comfort has come through driveway, porch, garage and backyard visits, whether those visits were a surprise, or planned in advance. It has come through the care package placed at the door of someone who was struggling. It has come through that recorded piece of music shared with the congregation. It has come through those kind words and actions freely shared. It has come through the thought or pray that was offered for you or by you.
All our efforts, as imperfect as they may have been, were transformed by the Spirit of God and used by God to bring comfort where it was so needed. Whenever we follow the lead of the Spirit and offer light and hope we help others receive comfort and we help each other to see Jesus!
God continues to come to bring comfort, light, salvation and hope. As we leave 2020 and enter into 2021 the pandemic continues. But so does the good news of God’s comfort! The message, light, hope, presence and consolation of Jesus continues! The Holy Spirt of comfort continues to move among us and through us.
Whenever we extend God’s love to those around us we share the comfort of God. Through our actions we speak about Jesus to all who long for comfort, salvation and light! As you enter 2021 may the peace of “our God of all comfort”, comfort you and make you a channel of comfort to others!
May the comfort of God, who took of human flesh in Jesus, be your comfort as you enter 2021!
Happy New Year!