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A message for the week starting on Sunday 4 February 2024

Lectionary Week: Presentation of the Lord
Prescribed Texts: Malachi 3:1-4, Psalm 84 or Psalm 24:7-10, Hebrews 2:14-18, Luke 2:22-40
Focus Text: Luke 2:25b

Sometimes the world seems unfair, and more so when we are taken advantage of. We may struggle with serious concerns:  Why should I go on living if life seems purposeless and nobody seems to care about me? How come life is so unfair? Why do so many acts of violence, sexual assault, and domestic abuse occur? How do I move on with my life after something traumatic has happened to me? How do I forgive someone who has wronged me or has caused me great pain? Why shouldn’t I pursue justice and hurt those who hurt me, so they can also feel the same pain? These are all valid questions and hard to consciously acknowledge because of the raw emotion, disappointment, and pain we feel when we contemplate them.

As Christians, where should we be looking for consolation and comfort? In this passage we saw what the righteous and devout servant of God was waiting for. In verse 25b, it says that Simeon “. . . was waiting for the consolation of Israel.” 

What is consolation and what consolation are we waiting for? Generally speaking, consolation is: ‘Comfort that is received by a person after a loss or a disappointment.’ 

Why did Israel need consolation? Had they experienced loss and disappointment? They did. Simeon was very aware of the declining national and spiritual state of Israel, but here, God revealed a plan for their consolation: It was not going to be a mere verbal reassurance that everything would be okay; it was not a gift of overflowing wealth so they could live in luxury.  It was a baby; a weak, helpless, defenceless, little baby.

Now of course, this was no ordinary baby. This baby is God’s salvation. This baby is the light of revelation. He would provide consolation, comfort, and peace to a people and to a world oppressed by sin and Satan. This baby would later state in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” 

God provides us inner peace that causes rejoicing and gentleness. We are urged to present all our inner struggles to God and God will give us peace that protects us. Notice that never is it stated that God will change the situation; it only instructs us to rejoice and present it to God and even though our situation may stay the same, we experience God’s peace and comfort because we allow Him to console us. This is the mystery of God’s consolation: that we can experience comfort, not because we are comfortable, but we experience comfort despite the discomfort the world puts us through.

Ultimately, as Christians, we wait for the fulfilment of His promise to us. When, not if, we experience it like Simeon when we hold it in our hands, His peace will be on us, and our hearts will experience it.

To think about:  How can I comfort those that wait on consolation?

Written by: Rev. Sean Esterhuizen, Minister in Diaconal Services Diaconia, CABSA Chairperson and trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator