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Between Now and Then

Between Now and Then

Isn’t it so special that we can gather on Christmas Eve once again? The waiting is almost over. We are hours away from Christmas Day. 

While we don’t have to wait much longer for Christmas, I’m very aware that many of us are waiting for things that remain out of our reach. 

For the world to be fully normal again.

For our nation to not be so divided.

For our city to solve the issues that are keeping us from thriving.

And on a more personal note – you’re waiting:

For the relationship.

For the healing.

For the baby.

For the job.

For stable housing. 

For a breakthrough.

While I can’t predict how long you’ll be waiting to grasp those things that you desire, I do believe there’s something we can hold onto while we’re waiting.

Luke 2:25-35 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. 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, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

God is present, regardless of what remains absent.

Simeon is waiting for the consolation of Israel. He’s waiting for the Messiah to be born. But while He is waiting, the Holy Spirit – the presence of God – is on him. He isn’t alone. God is with him.

We must hold onto the promise before we can hold the fulfillment of the promise. 

And for Simeon, the fulfillment has come. Can you imagine the joy that is present in this moment? With his own eyes, he sees what he’s been waiting for. In this moment, this older man has the joy of a six year old on Christmas morning. The promise he was given has been fulfilled. And now he takes Jesus into his arms. Can you imagine the joy that is present in this moment?

And yet, every issue in the world is not solved at this moment.

In fact, Simeon was promised that he would not die before he had seen Jesus. While he’s holding this new life, guess what he’s simultaneously realizing about his own. 

And while his words to Mary cause her to marvel with joy, they also let her know that joy won’t be the only emotion she will experience in the life of her son.

Is it possible to hold onto joy, even while holding onto sorrow?

Some of you have had your hearts broken this year. Sadness has become a daily companion. You’re wondering if it will ever get better.

Is it possible to hold onto joy, regardless of what you have to let go of?

Some of you have experienced great loss. The loss of a loved one. The end of a marriage. The death of a dream. What do you do when you lose what you thought would be with you forever?

Is it possible to hold onto joy, even while you’re waiting for what isn’t here yet?

Some of you are still waiting for what seems like it may never come. Getting married. Having a child. Seeing a fractured relationship be restored. For your chronic illness to be healed.

Joy is possible, but like Simeon, you must embrace Jesus. Take him in your arms. Receive his presence in your life through the Holy Spirit. 

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

We think we can only rejoice once we finally have the thing we’ve been longing for. But because Jesus has promise to always be present in our lives, we can rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.

God has made joy available to everyone, regardless of your circumstances or your performance.

“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” This is the same thing the angel said to the shepherds:

Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

The shepherds will leave this great moment, but they will head back to the same circumstances and to their same reputation. But they will have a reason to live with joy. And so do we. 

Simeon tells Mary that “a sword will pierce your own soul too”. The one who is marveling at what’s being said about Jesus. The one who is treasuring up all these things in her heart. The one who has been singing a song of worship to God for this gift. She is the one who will be present at the cross, watching her son suffer in unimaginable ways.

One of the ways we can live with joy now is by holding onto the promises God has given us. In the midst of our sorrow and while we’re waiting, we must hold onto the promise. (v.29) Simeon praised God saying, “Sovereign Lord, AS YOU HAVE PROMISED.” 

What did Jesus promise us about joy? He told us we could have it now in the midst of our sorrow…but there’s a day coming when we will have joy without any sorrow.

John 16:20-22 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

Weep and mourn while the world rejoices.

Grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

A woman in childbirth certainly has pain, but she forgets it when the baby is in her arms. No one will take away your joy.

For now – the promise of Jesus is that we can have joy in the midst of our sorrow and while we are waiting.

But hold onto his other promise – that one day, we will have joy without any sorrow. The sting of all of the pain, trauma, and sorrow in your entire life – the sting will be over.

Receive his joy.

Or pick it back up. Take him into your arms, into your life, into your sorrow, and into your waiting.

Hold onto this joy.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come.

Let earth receive her king.

Let every heart prepare Him room. 

Will you take him into your arms, into your life?

Trust his promise. 

Put your faith, your life into His hands.

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Joy in the midst of his sorrow so that He could one day give us joy without any sorrow.

I want to ask you to bow your heads and close your eyes. Have you embraced Jesus? Have you taken Him into your life? I want to give you the chance to do that right now. If you’re ready to put your faith in Jesus, say something like this in your heart: Jesus, I believe that you came to give me life. Just like Simeon said, I believe that you are the salvation I have been waiting for. And since you’ve come to bring this joy to all people, I know that even includes me. You can have my life.

If you’ve just done that, here’s what I want to ask you to do. Let us know so we can help you live in this new reality. There’s a card in the seatback in front of you. Write your name, email, and just check the box that says, “I am placing my faith in Jesus today.”

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