Great Expectations (Thought for December 2023)

December 4, 2023

in Monthly comment

We have reached the season of advent. A time when we look forward to several services of worship and celebration and blessing as we read those accounts familiar to many of us, but still foreign to many outside the church. We read of a long expected saviour – to some their expectations were of a warrior who would lead them in battle yet what they saw was a child born in a lowly state.

This long expected saviour of whom Zechariah, father of John the Baptist was to prophesy , ‘He has raised up a horn of salvation in the house of his servant David’ would confound many of their expectations. As a baby there would still be several years before Jesus would begin his ministry here on earth but yet there was great celebration and joy at his birth, as we read of the angelic hosts calling the shepherds to worship him and, some time later the star guiding Magi from the east to worship and bring their gifts.

Two people who are often overlooked in our readings at this time are the prophetess Anna and Simeon – a man who was described as righteous and devout. As Mary and Joseph brought the baby to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate Him as their first born (this was prescribed in the law of Moses see Exodus 13:2) Simeon was there, drawn by the Holy Spirit to take the child in his arms and bless him saying ;

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
Anna, likewise, who was very old and had been coming to the temple for many years, came to the child and giving thanks to God ‘she spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.’ (Luke 2 38b)

The novelist Charles Dickens in his book ‘Great Expectations’ addresses the issues of social class and human worth in the Victorian era, narrated by the orphan, Pip. It was a popular novel with a classic title that captures human thinking on so many levels. We have great expectations but what are they? Is it about our next job or our next car, or our next house, perhaps a holiday in 2024? The coming of Jesus is the fulfilment of that greatest of all expectations, a saviour who would bring light into the world for all people and thus bring glory to His name. Simeon spoke of the fulfilment of a promise and that he could now be ‘dismissed in peace’ but note that he calls him-self ‘your servant’. He served the Lord and this should challenge each of us to serve the Lord also. At this time of year we have the perfect opportunity to speak with our friends and family of ‘the reason for the season’ as we meet and celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus.

May I wish you all, a truly blessed time this Christmas.


December 2023

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