Series: Christmas Presence
Message: Regifting the Presence
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: J. Murdock
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: Vanessa Alarcon
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Luke 2:22-38 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: While it likely doesn’t compare to the after-effects of a night spent in overindulgence, the day after Christmas also has the ability to evoke feelings of a hangover of sorts. The room is suddenly full of items you don’t remember ordering online, the floor is a mess, there are foods that don’t belong together mashed into sandwiches which sit on plates strewn about the room, and the TV is still on but no one is watching it. Bloated and disoriented, we all have found ourselves at one time or another looking around and wondering what really happened yesterday.
After you manage to conquer the mountain of dishes stacked haphazardly by the sink, mash the perilously stacked bags of garbage into the dumpster, and suck the glitter out of the carpet for the eleventh time, you find that life is finally starting to look the way it did before the holiday frenzy culminated with the opening of presents that had long been stashed under the now dry and balding pine tree standing lopsided in the living room.
Christmas is over.
Only 364 more shopping days until the next one.
If you look to the calendar, the next big event is in a few short days and with it comes the conclusion of this year and the start of the next. But before the chapter closes on 2019, take a moment to bask in the afterglow of what just took place.
Thinking back to Simeon, he stood firm in his faith that God would arrive in a way that would place him in the front row to see His arrival to this world. But that Christmas gift was not given to him until forty days after Christmas. In between that time of Jesus’ arrival out from Mary’s womb, someone stood fast waiting for their present to arrive. This would be like waiting until after all the other toys had already been broken, lost, returned, exchanged, and been left out of boredom, you were suddenly given this one gift that still stood untouched under the tree (which by now had likely been discarded on the curb for pickup!) Simeon knew something good was coming; all he needed was for someone to remember him. Thankfully, God’s plan was always ever pointing right at Simeon, and the Christmas Spirit moved to him on schedule in the form of a family walking through Jerusalem where he was waiting anxiously for their arrival.
You’ve just spent a whole day basking in the Light of this beautiful holiday and have the spoils to prove it. But in your holiday hangover, remember this; there is still more glory to be shared. The remnant tidings of this season can and will fade over time if you allow them to. But, like Simeon, someone is still waiting for their gift to be delivered. The only one who can bring it to them may not even be aware that it was their job to come walking by. But when we allow God to give us direction, all we have to bring is the Presence of the afterglow with us and He will take care of the rest.
Recalibrate: Where will God take you next that will be unexpected to you but right on time for Him? What will it take for you to be willing to go when you’re asked?
Respond: Pray that the Spirit of God will travel with you this week as you move through your daily walk with Him in hopes that the good news you know will be deployed to someone who is waiting for it to arrive for them.
Research: Read How to Celebrate Christmas After Christmas Day.
Remember: “Anna walked up to them and burst forth with a great chorus of praise to God for the child” (Luke 2:38, ICB).
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Today we are going to repeat and extend what we did on Sunday. Holding the hand of your child go for a walk around your home or your community and take in the Christmas sights. Enjoy the sparkle of lights and glitter on trees. Linger in the beauty of Christmas as it is meant to be, holding hands and hearts with the ones we love. Linger in the beauty of Christmas. Talk about yesterday and all that you loved about it. Share the conversation with your child. It is always a good time of year to linger in love, share it, thank God for it. It is the best present ever, the presence of Jesus.
What do you do, the day after Christmas? In Australia, we go on summer holiday. If you’re a kid growing up in Australia you will most likely get swimmers, floating pool toys, hats, lots of summer stuff to see you through the Christmas holidays. These are the gifts that keep on giving all summer long and there is nothing better than sharing these with your friends. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving forever. Share Him with your friends. He is the best ever!
So we’ve spent some time focusing on Simeon, who by his deep commitment to God, knew Jesus was coming and was able to meet him before he died. But, this wasn’t the only person that knew Jesus was there. Meet the prophet Anna, who is described as someone who spent her days and nights at the temple worshipping God. While other priests were around, only she and Simeon approached Mary and Joseph to meet Jesus. Imagine, only two people that day! She praised God that day because she knew Israel was going to be redeemed. Now there is one common thing about both Simeon and Anna— they are described as having been much older. But you, 1o, 11, or 12 year old, are not too young to meet Jesus. Age is not a barrier. While age is what they both had in common, there was a greater thing in common which is that they spent much time talking to God. How do you talk to God? Anything new you’d like to try as we enter 2020 to get closer to God?
Simeon saw the promised One. There may have been a score of other priests on duty that day who didn’t see a blooming thing. Anna saw “the redemption of Israel” while throngs of others passed by, barely noticing a poor Galilean couple with a baby. Oblivious. What a terrible word. Let me teach you a word: kavod. That’s the Old Testament Hebrew word for “glory.” Unlike its Greek New Testament counterpart (doxa) it doesn’t mean “shimmery.” It means “heavy.” God is heavy in this universe. This earth is filled with Him; He drips in every square centimeter of creation. That’s why when Jacob finally opened his eyes (in Genesis 28) he could say, “God was here all along and I didn’t even know it!” Anna and Simeon understood kavod and were on the lookout for it. If you aren’t, you are oblivious. Why don’t we set ourselves today to see reality the way the rest of the universe does?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Vanessa Alarcon is a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on addiction treatment in Denver, Colorado. She also serves as the Faith Engagement Pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.