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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

human and small and vulnerable and needy and broken by being all those things too.

Look upon the Baby Jesus, Martin Luther preached.

Divinity may terrify man.

Inexpressible majesty will crush him.

That is why Christ took on our humanity, save for sin, that he should not terrify us but

rather that with love and favor he should console and confirm...

See how God invites you in many ways.

He places before you a Babe with whom you may take refuge.

You cannot fear him, for nothing is more appealing to man than a babe.

Are you affrighted?

Then come to him, lying in the lap of the fairest and sweetest maid.

You will see how great is the divine goodness, which seeks above all else that you should

not despair.

Trust him! Trust him!

Here is the Child in whom there is salvation.

To me there is no greater consolation given to mankind than this, that Christ became man, a

child, a babe...

That consolation points us to redemption: Simeon leads us to Anna.

Redemption, freedom bought at a price, means we must have value.

The wise old widow, the one with no voice or value in the world, is the one who sees this.

The woman with no power, just like the capital city, recognizes in this child that God

values her and her city enough to pay an outrageous price to redeem them.

Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, Luther continued, if you come to this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save.

In this strange and beautiful way named Jesus, God embraces and rescues us, consoles and

redeems us, calls us and saves us.

No wonder Mary and Joseph spend all of chapter two being amazed.

No wonder Mary spends so much time pondering not in her mind, which is blown, but in

her heart, which takes a lot longer and has the depth to handle it.

Is this child what you were looking for?

Probably not, and absolutely yes.

He is the good news that we are consoled—beside-called—to share with our neighbors.

And don't dismiss this as something Lutherans don't do.

If God can save the world in dirty diapers, you can share good news with those beside you.

You can invite friends and family into God's strange and beautiful love story.

Review the evangelism committee in Luke chapter two: heaven's military choir, some third shift shepherds from the sticks, an old man with a dire warning, and a chatty old church lady.

They all share what they see and tell what they know, which is God's glorious salvation hidden in very plain sight.

Do you see what our consoling, redeeming God is doing in your life?

Where is Christmas happening now in your world?

Are you inviting others to watch with you?

What are you looking for?

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