Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Luke 2: Waiting for the Consolation

Yesterday I mentioned that Mary the mother of Jesus, or someone close to her, was probably one of Luke's sources. This is evident all through chapter two. After telling the Nativity story with details available nowhere else, Luke says in 2:19: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." And not once but twice Luke says that Jesus grew in wisdom and in strength, and in favor with God and man. If those aren't the words of a proud mom, I'll eat my Red Sox baseball cap commemorating the 2004 World Championship.

.....Which was, as you know, a LONG TIME in coming. Even for me, who gained Red Sox Nation citizenship in 1967. My father was a lifelong Red Sox fan who, born eight years after the previous World Series victory in 1918, died in 1996 before RSN experienced the "we were like men who dreamed" delirium of October, 2004 when the Sox finally won, O happy day.

So, I relate to Simeon, an aged man of God who was "waiting for the consolation of Israel". The consolation refers to the opening words of Isaiah 40, well-known from Handel's Messiah: "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, says your God." In short, he was waiting for Messiah. And he had waited a long, long time.

It takes effort to wait for consolation. It takes intentionality. The road to hope starts with a small step of faith in the goodness and timing of God. Instead I stamp my foot, demand and scheme. Like Carly Simon, "I haven't got time for the pain." And yet not waiting inflicts pain on others and myself.

I am in a Simeon season, "waiting for the consolation." I do not know what consolation will look like, whether it will be slowly progressive or a series of abrupt revelations. It is enough to know that He does. The great African-American poet Maya Angelou writes, "You said to lean, so I'm leaning; you said to trust, so I'm trusting; you said to call, so I'm calling you Lord, I'm stepping out on Your Word. And as with all of His dealings with me, waiting builds faith, hope and love, not despair.

Simeon is my New Normal role model. While waiting he remained faithful to listen to God's Spirit, who (need it be said?) remained faithful to him, summoning him into the temple courts to a pair of pilgrims and their baby. Clearly the wait was worth it: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation."

Earlier I mentioned one of my favorite verses, Luke 2:52: "And Jesus grew in wisdom and strength, and in favor with God and man." I used to pray over Tim, Joe and Imani - "may you grow in wisdom and strength, and may you be wise and handsome [for Imani, 'beautiful'] too!"- and for all three it has been answered. I could brag on (oops, sorry Lord, "give thanks for") their real-time wisdom, strength, godliness and love of others all day. Wow - that didn't take long! It's started already.....

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