A Christmas reflection for Sunday, December 31st by Jillian Evans
Lectionary reading for 12/31/2023: Isaiah 61:10-62:3,Psalm 148,Galatians 4:4-7,Luke 2:22-40
Selected passage for reflection: Luke 2:22-40
Luke 2:22-40 NIV
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[b]
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 on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[d] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.”
One day when Olivia was about 10 years old, she had been outside playing with a few friends from the neighborhood. The sun was beginning to set when the group heard a woman yelling, “Girl! You better get in this house!” Olivia recognized the voice of her mother and therefore knew that she was the girl being spoken to. As the group looked to one another, Olivia moved with haste because her mother had spoken.
In the above selection, scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. The scripture goes on to say that he was moved by the Holy Spirit to go into the temple courts. As we continue to read we find out that it is in the temple courts where Simeon sees the Christ child and thus fulfills a prophecy on his life. What has the Holy Spirit instructed you to do? What is the prophecy on your life that is waiting to be fulfilled?
The Bible tells us that when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, that we also receive the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that spoke to Simeon speaks to believers today. Just like Olivia, we have to be able to tune in and know when that voice is speaking to us. The best way to do this is by feeding our relationship with God through regular communication. Olivia recognized her mother’s voice because she’s been listening to it every day for 10 years. When we commune with God regularly, He helps us to discern His voice from others.
When we hear from the Holy Spirit we can receive directives for our lives. As believers, it should be our desire to live in the will of God and fulfill His purpose. What is your purpose? What has yet to be fulfilled in your life? What is God trying to say to you? Do you move with haste when God gives you a directive?
Develop a routine of spending time with God. Feel free to mix it up. Here are some suggestions: prayer, devotions, lectio divina, journaling, daily examen. Pick something that speaks to your heart and spend regular time with God.
I seek Your truth and Your word for my life. I pray that you enable me to discern your voice and your messengers in my life. My desire is to hear from you and to do your will. In Jesus name, Amen
About the Author
Jillian Evans is a Spiritual Director in Chicago, Illinois. She is passionate about children’s ministry and has spent over half her life in ministry to children and their families. She and her husband are recent empty nesters with three young adult children and they are enjoying their newfound freedom by traveling the world as often as possible.