The Presentation of Our Lord (Epiphany 4) February 2, 2020
Text: Luke 2:22-40 3 Year Series A 20:2172
Theme: Lord, I Go in Peace.
Andy was from Flint, MI, in his early 20s. Lee was about 40, from MN. Randy was in charge, a taller man from San Diego. He sported big mutton chops and a mustache that covered his face. He looked like Wyatt Earp. There was Pastor Sternhagen, wife Carol, and son Seth. The pianist couldn’t make it, but he talked with us on the phone. Some had just left for home; they had been there the week before. Others would soon arrive to replace those who left.
Fourteen years ago, these were people at Crown of Life Lutheran Church in New Orleans. I was there at the time with Vanessa to enroll her as a student at LSU in Baton Rouge. But there was a mix-up with admissions. So, we spent several days in New Orleans at the church, helping to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
We talked about a variety of things – the different states and cities from which we came, our backgrounds, what we did, how we came to be there, and so on. They asked about you. They wanted to know who you were, what you did, what life is like in the Ozarks. Some weren’t sure where Springfield and Marshfield are. They laughed when I told them at the time that we lived in Nixa. Whoever heard of a city called Nixa? There were lots of things they didn’t know about us and we didn’t know about them. We were “unknowns” to each other – for that matter, to the world.
You know, that’s the way it was for those who were there at Christ’s first coming. They were “unknowns,” hidden in obscurity. What do you really know about the angels, Joseph, or even Mary? And we know almost nothing about Simeon in our text. Was he a priest or lay person? How old was he? What did he do for a living? Was he married? Single? Father? Grandfather? How did God speak to him? Those questions remain unanswered. But we have something in common with him and the others as did the people we saw in New Orleans – we are people of faith.
As such we may be “unknowns” to the world, but the Gospel shines through us. The Holy Spirit comes to the fallen children of men, wherever they are, to lift them up and encourage them with the promise of forgiveness and life. Into the loneliness and poverty of our souls, He pours a message that makes us rich. Unknowns? Not to Christ and each other in faith! We are part of the enriched family of God, even if we don’t know much about each other.
That brings warmth to the soul, calm to life, and puts a joyous spring in our step. It enables us to say with unknown Simeon, “Lord, I’m content. Whether in life or in death I Go in Peace.”
I. My eyes have seen You.
I Go in Peace. Dear friends, you can say the same thing at the end of each day: “Lord, I Go in Peace.” Oh, yes, you run into troubles in life. You get wearied from the toil and struggles of each day. We are only human; no super-humans here. We get tired. Imagine how tiring it was cleaning and rebuilding after Katrina.
They were a church not much larger in size than we are. They were even smaller because a number of their members didn’t return. They were scattered. Their pastor called them the “Diaspora.”
That’s Greek for scattered or dispersed. It referred to Old Testament believers, driven into captivity in distant lands, dispersed into the world, no longer at home but forced to live an entirely different life from what they had known. So also, the members at Crown of Life in New Orleans were dispersed. The few who remained were confronted with the task of rebuilding their church with seemingly limited resources.
Besides rebuilding, God gave them the task of carrying on the Gospel ministry in a deserted city. From a population of 500,000, the city shrank to under 200,000. It was like a ghost town in the hard-hit neighborhoods where the church was located.
There were miles and miles of splintered homes and broken buildings. Not a couple streets, not a few blocks, but miles this way, that way, and every direction. The majority of homes were empty, destroyed. Nevertheless, like here, there were people, souls that need the healing that only Christ can bring. It was a daunting task, a tiring task to an already exhausted people.
Yet, although extreme, it was no different from the weariness that any congregation is tempted to feel in its work of the Gospel ministry or the tiredness that you can feel as you go about your life of faith tested by illness, buffeted by Satan, or fatigued with the daily task of trying to keep your nose above water. We are human, sinners wearied at times from the toils, the temptations, the trials that a fallen world and we bring upon ourselves. If you allow that to take center stage in your life, you will struggle and find no rest because you have lost your focus as a redeemed child of God.
Simeon didn’t lose his focus. The Spirit had worked faith in his heart, giving him the promise that he would see the Christ before he died. Faith in the promises of God kept him going forward.
So it was that Simeon found himself in the temple at the exact time that Mary and Joseph were there with the Christ-child for His Presentation. Simeon was so confident in God’s promises that when he gazed upon the baby Jesus, he exalted, “My eyes have seen it; my eyes have seen Your salvation, Lord, which you have prepared in the sight of all people.” When he saw his Savior, he considered life complete. He was at rest. “Lord, I can Go in Peace.”
Seeing the Lord Jesus makes life complete, wherever God’s “Diaspora People” live. Seeing the Lord Jesus for what He means to you, makes your life complete now and forever, come what may!
We fuss and fret and fight with each other at times over such insignificant things, forgetting what the Savior means to us, together, as His people. Seeing Him and having Him as the Savior means that the sins of the past that have dogged our steps are forgiven. The mistakes this week gone-by are covered. And our future, whether we are together or apart, isn’t really so confused after all because we know that God loves us, God cares for us in our wearied state, and He gave the best He could to help us – His Son who died for our sin. Like Paul wrote to the Romans (8:31), “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things.”
If God so graciously poured out His Spirit to bless this unknown stranger, Simeon, this obscure and wearied-by-life individual, should any of us fear that He will pass us by? No! Why not? Because our eyes have seen Him too and now, together, We Go in Peace, focused on the faith and promises that God has given.
Never lose that focus for life that the Savior graciously supplies. As Paul wrote, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. In any situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” (Phlp.4:10f).
II. My arms have embraced you.
Have you embraced that? If you have, then you know what it means to be content in the Lord at the end of the day, no matter what that day brought you. If your arms have embraced Christ, then you understand the prophet’s words when he wrote to the scattered people of the O.T.: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him…it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lm.3:24).
Simeon waited quietly for the Lord’s salvation. When it arrived, he embraced it in his arms, and his heart never let go. He refused to let go because his greatest wish had been fulfilled.
If you could have just one wish come true before you die, what would it be? Would you like to meet some great person? Would you like to accomplish some great thing? Would you like to have a meaningful relationship that seemingly has eluded you? If you could have just one wish come true, what would it be?
Old Simeon had a wish. Seven centuries earlier God spoke to His scattered people soothing their hearts and promising, “Comfort, comfort my people…speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for” (Is.40:1). God granted that wish in Christ. Simeon embraced it. He could die at rest. He didn’t wonder what lay on the other side of death’s door. He didn’t worry about the eternal consequences of his sins. He didn’t try to calculate if he had done enough good to offset the bad. He wasn’t anxious about the cares and worries of the day. In his arms he held God’s answer to sin and every problem in life. The child he held would forfeit His own life as the substitute for Simeon’s. The result? Heaven’s glory awaited him. His greatest wish was fulfilled.
Although the toils and challenges of your day may be great, in faith you can close your eyes at night, knowing that you will rise from sleep to face a fresh, new day with many opportunities lying before you to share with others the blessings you have in Christ. Or, if you do not rise to live another day here, then you rise to face a new life with Him in glory.
Embrace Him in your arms, dear friends, together, and Go in Peace. For into the loneliness and poverty of your soul, perhaps hidden in obscurity to the world, the Spirit has poured a message that makes you rich and part of the family of God. What a wonderful family it is to have, even when we barely know one another. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(Member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com You can also find us on Facebook
(Epiphany 4) The Presentation of Our Lord February 2, 2020
“Lord, You now dismiss Your servant in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people” Lk.2:29f
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
We extend a warm and sincere welcome in our Savior’s name. Please sign our guest book, located to the right just outside the sanctuary. If you desire more information about Zion or are in need of spiritual guidance, please call upon our pastor at any time. We are delighted to have you join us today and invite you to return soon.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“How lovely is Your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty. My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the LORD. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are praising You. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Psalm 84)
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
My Eyes Have Seen Him. When Mary held Jesus in her arms, she held human flesh and blood. Yet, He was more than merely human; He was the Son of God, God Himself in human form. Too often we may take this for granted. Don’t! For without Him we are nothing. God loved us and willingly humbled Himself to take on human flesh so that He might suffer and die for us. He came to save us for His heavenly kingdom.
This work of salvation began soon after His birth as the baby Jesus came to the temple for His presentation. There Simeon and Anna, by faith, knew who the child was and what He would do as the Savior. As in faith they took the Christ into their arms and hearts, so may we receive Him, too, and enjoy the blessings He gives now and forever.
To that end we pray: Almighty and ever-living God, enlighten our hearts like that of Simeon and Anna of old, that we may see Him with the eyes of faith who is the glory of Israel and the light for all nations; for Jesus’ sake.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The Old Testament Lesson: 1 Samuel 1:21-28
Hannah brings her young son, Samuel, into the presence of the LORD at the tabernacle in Shiloh. She offers thanksgiving and her son in consecration to fulfill her vow to the LORD in giving her son to Him.
The Epistle Lesson: Hebrew 2:14-18
God demanded a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. For that purpose Jesus became fully human. He became our brother, like us in every way in His humanity, except He was without sin. Thus, He atoned for our sin and becomes our help in every time of temptation.
The Gospel Lesson: Luke 2:22-40
As confirmed by prophecy, Jesus is appointed as the Savior. It began at His circumcision, the sign that marked Him as heir to the covenant. At His presentation it was made known to those who were looking for Him. Early on He is recognized as that One whom God sent.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation. This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17). It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says. Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.
We Serve the Lord with Gladness:
Today’s Organist: Jane Rips
Today’s Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
February’s Ushers: Jim Inniger, Matt Luetke, & Roger Lisenby
Point to Ponder: Jesus matured as a normal child and had the blessings of God’s wisdom and favor. Today, pray for your children, grand-children, and all children that they would grow in the knowledge of their Savior and receive His favor. He who has blessed and kept you in faith will likewise hear and bless them too. (The Lutheran Study Bible, p.1711)
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #226
Order of Worship: The Common Service with Holy Communion: page 15
(Glory Be To God and The Psalm on pages 16-17 are not sung on Communion Sundays)
The Ministry of the Word
1 Samuel 1:21-28
Hymn Response: #393 st.1-3
Gospel Responses: pg,18
Nicene Creed: pg.18
Sermon Hymn: #78
Sermon: Luke 2:22-40 “Lord, I Go in Peace!”
Our Response to the Word
The Offertory & Offering: Hymnal pg.20
Prayers & Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Blesses Us
Order of Holy Communion
Hymnal pages 21-23
(Visitors: Please read the box on page 2 regarding Holy Communion)
Distribution Hymn: #397 & 316
Thanksgiving Prayer & Blessing
Hymnal pages 24-25
Closing Hymn: #332
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Today Feb.2 Presentation of Our Lord Epiphany 5
Divine Worship Service with Holy Communion
Bible study for all age
Pastor will attend the Winter’s MN District Southern Conference Study Institute Mon-Tues. in Cedar Rapids, IA
No Gardens Bible Study this week
11 am Midweek Bible Class
9-11 am Women’s Quarterly B&B
Next Sun. Feb.9
9:00 am Divine Worship Service
10:15 am Bible study for all ages
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
The readings today give us a window into the boyhood years of Jesus. The life of Samuel has some interesting parallels to that of Jesus. In Hebrews Jesus thrills to be one of us so He can share with us what He is and has done. Take a good look at how the almighty God had to go through the learning process of life just like we do.
The Gospel Lesson (Luke 2:22-40)
1. What did God do for Simeon, compared to what God had promised Simeon (verses 25-28)?
2. What did Simeon hint at to Mary (verse 35)?
3. For what were Simeon and Anna waiting (verses 25, 38)? For what are you waiting?
Prayer/Sick List Those We Remember In Our Prayers Gail Stuesser; Dea Windsor, Alyssa Cook’s mother; Barbara Long; Clyde and Sharon Johnson; Dave Ballou; Angela Meek; Roger & Liz Lisenby’s brother and sister-in-law and granddaughter Jackie.
The Week in Review:
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 34; Adult Bible Class 22; Sunday School: 2; The Gardens Bible Class: 10; Midweek Bible Class: 8; Sunday Offering: General Fund $1388; Military Chaplaincy: $31.
Mon.-Tues., February 3-4 – MN District’s Southern Conference (IA & MO) Winter Pastors’ Institute, at Cedar Rapids, IA
Saturday, February 8 – Quarterly Women’s Breakfast & Bible Study at Zion, 9-11 am
February 26/27 – Midweek Lenten Suppers/Services begin; at Peace on Wednesday evenings, at Zion on Thursdays
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany: Isaiah 58:5-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-20
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
4. God had promised Simeon that he would not die before he saw God’s Anointed Son. But God did better than He promised. He let Simeon hold his Savior!
5. He hinted that Jesus would suffer great pain, and Mary, without Joseph at her side, would see it. A sword would pierce her own soul, too.
6. They were waiting for the consolation of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem—waiting for God to come and comfort His people by paying for their sins. We wait for Jesus to comfort and rescue us by coming again.
This week I am praying for……