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Even for the religious

Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him … When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God … There was also a prophet, Anna … She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
- from Luke 2:25-38

In our society, Christmas is both a secular and religious holiday. Christmas trees and lights, Santa Claus and Rudolph, even presents and eggnog … these aren’t explicitly Christian symbols. We could enjoy them even if Jesus had never been born. Many secular people enjoy the Christmas season without ever connecting it with Jesus at all.

This drives some religious people pretty crazy. They feel like everyone around them is missing the point. “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON,” they shout. The secularization of Christmas drives their blood pressure so high they wonder if the world wouldn’t be better without Christmas at all.

On the other hand, some people are so caught up in the religious activities, they miss Jesus altogether. Sadly, many church-going people will miss Jesus this Christmas while sitting in church, singing the songs, and being very religiously busy.

Today’s passage shows us two elderly religious people who were deeply impacted by Christmas. Simeon and Anna spent time at the temple and dedicated themselves to worshipping the Lord. They waited and waited and waited for the Messiah to come. Year after year they suffered disappointment. Holidays came and went, but that perfect moment just never seemed to arrive.

Christmas was for them. In their old age they met Jesus. The irreligious world that threatened to drive them crazy now held the Savior. Hundreds and thousands in that temple passed Jesus by, missing Christmas in a way, but Simeon and Anna met him. Their eyes were fixed on Jesus and their hearts were filled with joy.

Wouldn’t it be great if that were true for us all?

In this season, do you find yourself celebrating a secular Christmas or frustrated that people around you are missing the reason for the season? What would it look like for you to make Jesus the center of your focus this season?

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