Scripture: Luke 2:22-40 (NRSV)
Christmas day! Presents unwrapped, Christmas dinner eaten. Grandpa snores silently on the easy-boy. Grandma fusses over the newest grandbaby. Aunts put puzzles together, while uncles watch reruns on TV. Nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, cousins all, go bowling in the basement on the Wii. Awesome are the experiences and deeds we expect and take for granted at Christmastide. The coming together of generations, whether in our families of origin or in the church or with friends and others we love, is one of the priceless gifts of Christmas!
The divisions in our nation seem many these days, and not just between political parties. “What divides Americans most,” said a recent Time magazine article, “isn’t race, gender, geography or ideology. It is the year we were born.” The biggest gap between us is the generation gap. An extensive new Pew Research Center poll found that today we have the largest generation gap since 1972. The sheer numbers of people in the middle (Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) creates a demographic chasm between the Silent Generation (0ver 65) and the Millennials (18-30 year olds). The survey revealed that the youngest and oldest generations have strikingly different views on everything from how they feel about the Internet, the government, how they’ll vote, the economy, the church, interracial or same sex marriages and so on.
By contrast, the Christmas day passage (Luke 2:22-40) reminds us that the birth of Christ ushers in strong possibilities of uniting generations across time and space. Jesus’ parents bring him to the Temple to offer a sacrifice of two young turtledoves to fulfill the law of dedication. No doubt a few of Jesus’ extended family were with them for this auspicious occasion.
It isn’t long, however, until the infant attracts others, especially two older people, Simeon and Anna. Both are awed by this unexpected visitation. Simeon immediately proclaims Jesus to be his Savior and the Savior of the world, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, O God…a light for revelation to [all people].” Simeon can now die, happy. Then old Anna, a widowed prophet living in the Temple for years, “gave thanks to God and spoke of Jesus to everyone looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” And Mary and Joseph awed by the whole thing, “marveled at the things which were spoken” about Jesus.
What greater Christmas gift could there be to one another? What more unexpected sign of the power of Christ’s birth in our lives than the coming together across time and space, across the generations, however wide the gap? Before this season is over, if you’re of the older generation, whether you agree with them or not, reach out and embrace that youngster nearby. Tell him or her that you believe in them, care for them, love them no matter what. If you’re a part of the younger generation, make sure in this season to give the gift of your hug or kind word, or volunteer to read or do some other loving deed to an older person you know or encounter.
To all of us, Millennials, Generation Xers, Baby Boomers or the Silent Generation alike, whatever our differences, whatever the gap between us, let us all unite to sing with one voice, and not just on this Christmas day, but every day, “Christ, the Savior is born, Christ, the Savior is born!”
Scripture: Luke 2:22-40 (NRSV)
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), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
25Now 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. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lords Messiah. 27Guided 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, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. 33And the childs father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then 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 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealedand a sword will pierce your own soul too. 36There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.