A Simeon New Year

I was supposed to preach this last Sunday at my home church in Seattle, however on Friday I was struck with a pretty horrible flu that kept me mostly in bed for two days. I made the call at some point Saturday evening that there was no way I could stand up and speak coherently for twenty minutes in front of anyone. Thankfully our dear friend, and Covenant missionary to the Congo, was willing to jump in on very short notice and share in my place.

My text for Sunday was the story of Simeon’s encounter with Jesus. Whenever I read his story, I have always in my mind the painting by Rembrandt, Simeon with the Christ Child in the Temple. His dimming eyes, the slightly open mouth, and the light which crowns Simeon’s balding head before ultimately resting on the Christ child always provokes deep emotion in me. That painting has somehow made the person of Simeon come alive for me in a special way.

There is something so powerful in Simeon’s act of waiting; in his embodiment of hope and belief and expectation, that speaks to me where I am. I think about his context of yearning to see God’s redemption in his lifetime. I think about what it would have felt like to have been entrusted with such a promise: “that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” I think about his ability to immediately recognize the gift of salvation, of “light for revelation”, in the package of a small, unimpressive baby brought by faithful parents into the temple courts.

And I am made to think of my own life and eyes and belief, and the promises I too have received. And I wonder if my response to these things looks anything like the faithfulness and hope of Simeon? Is my life oriented toward and consumed by the simple longing to see Jesus? Is that a life I dare to live here?

I asked Doug to sing a song to close my sermon. The song begins with the following words, and they are my prayer for me and my family; for my church and South Central; and for all of us this coming year:

“In the morning when I rise,
in the morning when I rise,
in the morning when I rise,
give me Jesus…

Give me Jesus,
give me Jesus,
you can have all this world,
give me Jesus.”


  1. We regularly sing Fernando Ortega’s rendition of this song in worship. I am always undone. Hardly any other song comes closer to my heart.

  2. I love it too…I think it is the only song my husband sings that I love as much as the ones he has written. And the last verse, “And when I come to die…give me Jesus” is such a fitting note to close Simeon’s story with. I do wish I could have preached that message… 🙂

  3. Erika,

    Great job on the Simeon Reflection. The question you ask at the end is one we all should ask of ourselves. Doug’s song is a wonderful prayer to take with us this year and beyond.

    Bob Johnson

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