Look! What Do You See?
Look! What Do You See?
TEXT: Luke 2: 22-40
QUESTION: What do you see in the Christ child? Why is Jesus important for your life?
ASSERTION: Jesus is the promised Savior of all creation. In him we find peace, joy, and strength to live every day of our lives.
INVITATION: Become a preacher. Go and testify to what you have learned about God's love and seen in the life of Jesus. Take up the task of preaching the Gospel.
Move 1: Introduction
This morning we hear two testimonies about the life of a baby from Nazareth, Jesus. Listen for the Word of God in Luke 2: 22-40:
"When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him." (Luke 2:22-40, NRSV)
Prayer for Enlightenment
Move 2: The Preaching Task
I love to preach, to share the Word of God in a sermon. In fact, I love it so much I want to make you all preachers of the gospel.
But the preaching task is not simple, and I always appreciate the elders including me in their prayers prior to worship on Sunday morning. I appreciate the prayerful support of the whole congregation, because sermons don’t just fall from heaven fully written with a note attached that says, "Preach this."
The process begins with choosing a scripture for the day. It may be a seasonal passage but it needs to be timely and offer a word to the congregation that is relevant for today. It needs to be a passage that is understandable, a passage that will “preach,” as we say in the seminary.
Then preachers read the passage over and over in several translations in order to HEAR the words formed in different ways. We sit with a passage, pray over a passage, and meditate on the chosen passage. Eventually preachers turn to Bible study consulting concordances to discover where key words appear in other, related passages, we consult Bible dictionaries, and we even read sermons by other preachers. We turn to Bible commentaries to learn how others have faithfully interpreted the chosen passage. And finally the sermon begins to form in our minds and then on paper.
As I was preparing the sermon for this morning I found several ways into preaching this passage in Luke.
Move 3: Overwhelmed Parents
First, we have two young parents whose lives have been turned upside down in the year preceding the birth of their child. Mary was engaged to Joseph, a respected man in her village, a carpenter. He would be able to care for her, but just barely because he was not wealthy. And then she is visited by an angel who greets her and tells her she has found favor with God. In fact, the Angel said, she would bear the Son of God–the chosen Messiah–who would bring salvation to all people.
Joseph is visited by an angel who tells him that his betrothed wife is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. And the Angel tells Joseph the baby will be a blessing to all Israel and that he should be named Jesus.
Early in her pregnancy Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth who proclaims Mary blessed. The baby is born and shepherds come to visit telling of angels who have heralded Jesus’ birth. And now, in the Temple and old man and an old woman prophesy that this baby will be the promised Messiah. The news, the testimony, the prophecies are simply too much to comprehend.
Move 4: Poor Parents
Another way to preach this passage is to draw attention to the poverty of these young parents. They don’t even have the price of a lamb to offer on behalf of their first born son. So, that make the substitutionary offering of a pair of turtle doves. They have been told for nearly a year now that their child is gifted, he is favored by God, he will bring salvation to the people of Israel. Now, an old prophet proclaims that this child is the chosen Messiah who will bring salvation to ALL people.
Like all parents everywhere, May and Joseph want to provide for their child. They want the best for him, but they are poor. How can they provide for his education in the Law and Prophets? How can they ensure that he has what he needs to become the Messiah?
By extension this passage then asks us to consider all the children who are being raised in poor homes, children with great potential, and gifts to help heal the world. What can we do to assure them a bright future?
Move 5: What Do You See?
But I see another theme for preaching in this passage. All those who saw the baby Jesus were moved and transformed. In him they saw promise, and hope, and love, and joy. Simeon and Hannah saw a child who would usher in a new age, a new way of understanding one another, and a new way of relating to God. And so they testified. They spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Look! What do you see in the baby Jesus, the infant born to Joseph and Mary? What do you see in the Christ child? How have you experienced the blessing of God in the story of this child and in the life of Jesus? Like Simeon and Anna it is up to you to proclaim what you have seen. You are called to preach this sermon to everyone you meet. You are now the evangelists, the heralds of God’s good news. What will you preach?