Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY
Merry Christmas! Over the next weeks, as the season of Christmas draws to an end on January 6th, we are going to see a lot of things go. Trees will find their way to curbs, Santa will find his way back to the North Pole, Christmas songs will leave our radio dial, and all of those holiday specials we have been watching on TV will come to an end.
I caught a glimpse of just one of those holiday specials this year. It is sort of hard not to since TBS plays it for 24 hours straight. I imagine many of you can now guess the movie I am talking about. It’s A Christmas Story.
There are several classic moments in the film, but none more so than Christmas morning when Ralphie opens his gifts. He and his brother Randy made their way down stairs where Ralphie’s eyes immediately begin to scan the gifts under the tree looking for a long narrow box that would hold the Red Ryder BB gun he so desired. As he and his little brother unwrapp present after present we watch as Ralphie’s hope and expectation slowly fades away. When at last all the presents are gone Mr. Parker points to one last long and narrow box in the corner. Ralphie knew he had gotten it at last, a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle.
Even before he opened it up, even before he held it or shot it, he realized that he had been given his one desire: the one thing on his Christmas list. It has probably been a long time since you or I have wanted something so much we have waited and looked for it as hopefully has Ralphie Parker, but Ralphie’s anticipation most certainly could be marveled by two of the lesser known characters in the Christmas story.
After the shepherds go back to the fields, the angels head back to heaven, and the stars give way to the day, the Christmas story continues with the naming ceremony and circumcision of Jesus (Luke 2:21-40, give it a read). His parents bring the infant to the temple and there waiting for him are Simeon and Anna. Unlike so many people in the gospels, Simeon and Anna are not only waiting for the Messiah, they are able to recognize him when they see him. Like Ralphie knowing his Christmas dream had come true at the sight of the box, so too Simeon and Anna only needed to see the child to know: God had come. Salvation was here. Love was born.
For years they waited. For decades they hoped. Then he appeared, and when he did they were ready. They praised God, and they experienced Jesus’ peace. The reality of Christmas didn’t end in the manger. That, it turns out, was just the start. Like Ralphie who thought he was done opening presents but it turned out there was more, Simeon and Anna waited well into their golden years until a couple brought their son to be circumcised like any ordinary couple would do. Only Jesus was no ordinary child.
This Christmas season as we watch the signs of the season fade away, may we continue to be on the watch for glimpses of God’s amazing grace. With God’s help, may we have the faith to see them as signs of God’s salvation when they appear. Good news of great joy is all around us. May we have hope enough to wait, and faith enough to see.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.