As a society, we don’t like to wait.
We do instant gratification to the max. For an example, picture the scene. You arrive at the front of Target with your shopping cart full of presents and supplies and your eyes immediately start scanning the checkout lines and formulating a mathematical equation in your head; Number of people in each line already, multiplied by the number of items in each cart, while factoring in the speed of the cashier. All of this in an effort to determine which is the shortest line and thus will get us out of the store the quickest. We don’t like to wait.
Yet it’s interesting that so many stories in the Bible are about waiting. Abraham is given the promise that if he believes in God, leaves his homeland, and joins God on some life-long adventure, among other things, God will make of him a great nation. It takes twenty-five years for Isaac to be born. Twenty-five years of waiting for a son. Jacob flees his homeland and heads to his uncle Laban’s house. On the way he has a dream at Bethel and God promises him that he will return to this land to worship. It’s twenty years before Jacob steps foot in Canaan again. David is anointed King over Israel by Samuel but he has to wait over ten years for the promise to be fulfilled. Ten years of running for his life as Saul tries to kill him. Ten years of hiding out like a criminal, waiting for God’s promises to be revealed. Yet these are nothing compared to the words of the prophets. Isaiah and others prophecy about the time when God will make things new and the Messiah will appear, but it’s almost 700 years before those words become true. The Bible is full of waiting.
So it’s no wonder that the Christmas story contains the often forgotten saints Simeon and Anna who are waiting. Simeon and Anna, these two examples of covenant faithfulness who were promised that they would not taste death until they saw the Lord’s Anointed. Simeon and Anna who teach us the value and wisdom of age. These two saints don’t get bogged down in trying to find the right presents, or tire from trying to make it to every party and celebration, but instead remind us that during this season there is only one thing that really matters; waiting for the Christ. Simeon and Anna spent their days at the Temple, wondering, hoping, if this would be the day the Christ appeared. Simeon and Anna woke up every morning with great anticipation, maybe this is the day the Christ would come. But the waiting did not make them bitter, it only made them more excited. Because the question was not if the Messiah come, but when. Thus each day as they laid their heads down at night, they weren’t sad or depressed because today wasn’t the day, instead they went to bed excited, hoping, anticipating, maybe tomorrow the Messiah would come.
And he did. Jesus came in the form of a tiny, helpless baby, not even strong enough to hold up his own head. Jesus came, and the promise was fulfilled. As Simeon and Anna held him they were filled with joy and peace and they began to prophecy. Here, in this moment, the old and new were brought together. Two faithful saints waiting for the salvation of the Lord holding the hope of the new in-breaking Kingdom. It didn’t matter that because of their age they would not see all that Jesus would accomplish, they were holding the new in their hands. Salvation had come. Nothing could stop it. They were filled with joy.
During this Christmas season we wait. We wait to open presents and celebrate with family and friends. We wait, to announce the birth of the Christ, and the hope found in the new-born king. We wait for salvation to come.
And we wait for the violence to end. We wait for hated and jealousy to be destroyed. We wait for the renewal of the creation, for a new heaven and new earth. We know the new will come. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when. Christ will return and reign on the throne. God will create new heavens and new earth. Evil will be done away with and we will live in peace with God. It will come true. So we wait, hoping, anticipating…maybe this will be the day. Come Lord Jesus Come.