Advent Devotional for December 14th

Jesus Is Named

21 After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 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 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 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. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 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, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 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 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed–and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

The Advent season brings many joyous traditions. It also brings cooler weather and the opening of Room in the Inn at the church. I have been involved in Room in the Inn for many years and enjoy spending the night at the church with our unhoused neighbors. I was joined by my son Harris for the first time last year. Our guests are experiencing difficult journeys, but I am always amazed at the spirit that many of them have. They are so appreciative of the comfort and support they feel when staying at First Presbyterian Church.

I am humbled by this spirit and feel fortunate to be with them where the true grace of Jesus Christ can be felt. In Luke’s gospel, Simeon, who rests in his guidance by the Holy Spirit and upon his witness of Jesus Christ, states,“ for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Our circumstances and surroundings, whether positive or negative, too often become our sole focus. Shifting this focus from ourselves and instead focusing on the light and truth that is Jesus Christ is what this Advent season should be all about.

-John Graham

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