Read Psalm 119:103; Matthew 2:22-35
It is tradition for us. Barring unusual circumstances, we put up and decorate the Christmas tree during the second week of December. I must be a creature of habit because some of the same thoughts pop into my head time after time. I wonder why the hooks I tried so meticulously to separate in the jar come out in one tangled blob. I put one of the sparkly glittery ornaments on the tree, remembering with joy, the sweet neighbor, now with Jesus, who gave us such special reminders of our friendship. I smile at the little crocheted Black and White Santas, a gift from a cab driver's wife who came to the United States from Vietnam. I try to remember the genesis of other decorations and can't recall how we came to have them.
There is, however, one thing I never forget to mention when visitors come near the tree. I remind them to "not eat the candy canes". I can't recall how old those confections are, but I am certain that none gets replaced unless it becomes cracked in the cellophane wrapper. In truth, the candy canes have become a part of decorating that I don't think about at all. I know, there is a beautiful story of the candy cane and how it came to be special because it represents Jesus' being Shepherd and Savior; however, I simply don't think of that, lovely as it is, when I hang the canes all over the tree. They are nice to look at, but at this point, it is likely that they are stale and lacking in the sweetness and flavor that they once had.
Could it ever happen that the sweetness of God's Word would begin to wane a bit, even though we know that what the Lord says is reliable? Could the weariness of life and the ordinary tedium of our circumstances cause God's promises, so often read and repeated, to no longer refresh and delight us? Could a lengthy wait to see God's promise fulfilled cause what He has said to seem like candy canes that have lost their appeal? If so, let's take a glimpse at Simeon who is only mentioned in Luke 2:25-35.
I have always thought that Simeon was an old man. Yet, when we meet him in these verses, we discover that Luke doesn't mention his age at all. We do know that he was waiting. He was longing for Messiah to come. He had the promises that the Holy One Who is the True Light would come, as his contemporaries did, Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 601-3, to name only a few. It had been 400 years since the Lord spoke through Malachi, and though there were others who, who like Simeon were faithfully watching, in many ways it was dark in Israel. Yet, we are told that Simeon was righteous and devout during his time of waiting. We know something else about this man. He had been given special insight by the Holy Spirit. Messiah would come prior to his death.
Can you imagine how excited he must have been when upon his entry into the temple, Simeon realized that this was the time? The Holy One had arrived. God's long-awaited promise had been fulfilled. It is when he spoke to Mary and Joseph that Simeon spoke specifically of the prophecies that this promised Baby would fulfill. How sweet this must have been, not only for Simeon, but for Joseph and Mary too. God's promises which had been alive in Simeon's heart were beginning to unfold before his eyes. It appears that Simeon lived with expectation that God would keep His promise, as he had always done, Joshua 21:44-45; 1 Kings 8:56.
Back to us. Can we let Simeon's story impact our hearts? Can we remember God's faithfulness to Simeon and encourage ourselves that we too have promises and truths, given to us from this same faithful God. If our hope has become about as brittle as our old candy canes, perhaps picturing how Simeon took God at His Word and how God sustained him until the proper time that He had ordained, Galatians 4:4, might buoy our own faith. He will sustain us too. The Psalmist compared God's Word to honey. His commands, promises and truths about Himself are meant to sweeten our lives and nourish us. Even when we are disciplined through what God says, the end is intended to produce righteousness, Hebrews 12:4-11. I'm thankful that God has given us a prayer to pray, if our hearts and His Truth seem brittle. It is Psalm 119:18.
Lord, open our eyes so that we might see beautiful things in Your Word. May the Holy Spirit quicken God's Word to our hearts, beginning throughout this Christmas season. May he give us joyful expectation to replace the dry places of drought. May reminders of His love soothe our broken places. Merry Christmas!