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1 Christmas - Luke 2:22-40

What are you looking for?

As we prepare to enter a new year, with a new presidential administration and a new vaccine, what are you looking for?

Are you looking for a job, a home, a stimulus check?

Are you looking for a community, a word of hope, a reason to go on?

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places, for vindication, for acceptance?

Are you looking for a second chance, an end to the pain, a chance to get out of the house; are you looking for your keys?

What are you looking for?

What we have learned to look for in a situation determines mostly what we see, Ellen

Langer has observed—I found that quote because I was looking for something like it.

When you look out into the wide and wondrous world, what do you see?

What are you looking for?

In the crowded temple, two wise elders saw the young, poor family.

Anna pointed out the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem, the rescue and freedom of the occupied capital named City of Peace.

Simeon embraced the child after looking forward to the consolation of Israel, the comfort of the occupied nation long ago proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah.

As we heard two weeks ago, Isaiah promised the consolation of a return home from Babylon.

Then we heard last week that God's presence would shift from house to house: from a

frame to a name, from a place to a face.

Consolation would look more like it sounds in Greek: literally, beside-calling, an in-person

invitation with no social distance, a hug.

As others looked for the city of peace to be set free, Simeon looked for the nation first to be

wrapped in the comforting arms of God.

They are different, but connected—watch any ransom movie and you'll see both every time.

National and local, male and female, consolation and redemption: they are distinct and

essential ingredients in the same story.

Surely others, maybe everyone, at the occupied temple was looking for this.

So why did only Simeon serenade the child, and why did Anna have to point him out?

What were people looking for?

There was a certain profile for Messiah, Son of David, that little Jesus did not fit any more than God now fits her popular profile, or is it his?

What have you learned to look for in God?

Are you looking for a helpless child of an unaccompanied, unmarried couple too poor to

give anything but a bare minimum offering?

Are you looking for an immigrant, an itinerant teacher, a misunderstood and abandoned

disappointment, a condemned criminal?

Are you looking for a muscular micromanager of personal and world affairs, a teddy bear with teeth, who comforts you and kicks other people's tail when they do you wrong?

Are you looking for a cosmic cop, a moral judge, a Santa in the sky, an alpha male protector and provider, a sacred superhero, or an exclusive doting boyfriend when you come to the garden alone?

When you tune out the sermon and tune into your heart hungry for God, what are you looking for?

Anna and Simeon spotted it in an instant, in an infant.

Before Simeon was welcomed into God's arms in the great beyond, Simeon held God in his.

We do too, every time we receive Holy Communion, the baby's body in our hands.

God calls us from beside us, invites us into love as one of us, consoling those of us who are