Grace and mercy and peace be to you from our God and Jesus Christ, our Lord:  Beloved of Jesus Christ:  The Gospel is our Text.

Everyone needs Redemption!  Let us speak about Redemption.

We say we know that redemption means ‘bought back’; or state of being redeemed; or recovery of what is mortgaged or pawned; or deliverance or the rescue as by a payment of a ransom.  Regardless of meaning, what have you done to pay the ransom, pawned, or bought back, or rescued?

Everyone needs redemption: “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them. “ Lev 18:5 

What does “the redemption of Jerusalem” mean?

One of the problems with our Christmas celebration is that we seem too often to be less than awed by the Word of Christ’s birth!  Let me quickly refresh your memory.

The Angel Gabriel announces to Mary, the virgin of house of David that she is favored by God to bear His Son without the agency of Man.

Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, is pregnant in old age, with John the Baptist, who leaps in her womb at the greeting of the just barely pregnant Mary.

A natal star appears over the Little town of Bethlehem, the house of bread.   

While dirty, stinking shepherds are out tending their flocks at night, an Angel of the Lord appears.  [Devoted shepherds are despised for failure to follow the worship practices.]

The glory of the LORD shown around them and they were afraid.  They heard the angel of the LORD say, Fear Not.  Fear not for I am bringing you Good News, which is for all the people: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord”.  The angels choir sang: “and Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to among those whom He favors!” Lk 2:10-14

“The shepherds went in haste to find the manger scene and found the child lying in a manger.” 16  They found it so.

On the eighth day, the child, lying in the manger, was taken to the Temple to be circumcised.  “He was called Jesus, the name given to by the angel [Gabriel] before He was conceived in the womb of Mary.” Lk 2.21

Mary pondered all these things in her heart.  [Lk 2:19]

Thirty-two days later, that is after forty days, Mary, Joseph and Jesus go to the Court of the Women at the Temple to be purified according to the Law which Moses had given Israel, the Nation.  They brought Him, the child, [Jesus,] up to Jerusalem, from Bethlehem, to present Him to the LORD.  Where is this written?  In the LAW OF THE LORD.  “Every first-born Male that opens the womb shall be called Holy to the LORD”.  He must be redeemed with a sin offering and a burnt offering, for He belongs to the LORD.  They, being poor, did not offer a donkey nor a lamb, but “A pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.”  Something must pay the redemption price.  A Son with out the agency of Man, given a name, Jeshua, God is our Savior, “Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The Scriptures record that Mary and Joseph were amazed at the things which were being said about Him, “Jesus”.  This is the essence of Christmas.  Not the presents, not the holy days, nor the holiday, not the trimmings, but the gift of God’s Son to fallen mankind, this is the awe-maker, He is the new-born REDEEMER.  Here is where the Christmas song of Luther rings in the hearts of believers: 

O dearest Jesus, Holy Child, Prepare Thee a bed, soft, undefiled, A Holy shrine, within my heart, That You and I need never part.  {From Heaven Above, 37, Lutheran Worship]   

Turn this into a daily prayer, to carry Christmas, in your hearts daily.

Remember Jesus’ taking the covenant of Abraham upon Himself, in His flesh, at His circumcision, shedding His first blood, sanctifying our conception, our time in the womb, our birth, that we might be holy and blameless before God through faith in Him who is the Promise and owns the promises.

Redemption means that a sacrifice must be made to cover the debt owed God for our sins, and one which is acceptable to Him. In awe let us go to the Temple to the Court of the Women, with those who are redeeming their first born sons and purifying the mothers.

“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout” [He was faithful and acceptable to God], and he was “looking for the consolation of Israel, [the promised messiah].   This consolation would be accomplished when the Seed of Abraham who believed God, came.  The Holy Spirit was upon this man.”  He who inspires the Scriptures.  This is awe inspiring testimony.  Simeon is waiting for the promise of God given Israel. The advent waiting has already come!

The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon, that he would not see death before He had seen the Lord’s Christ.  Simeon came to the court of the Women, directed to the couple by the Spirit, when the parents brought Him to carry out the purification and redemption of the first- born Son who opened the womb.  Simeon walked up, took the child into his hands and raised Him up blessing God. [Now let that act cause some awe to take hold]

What does it mean to “bless God?”  It means to praise God for His keeping His promises.  This is the Spirit’s work. 

Simeon was blessing for himself, and for us, as well all who would receive the revelation of the promises in the Gospel.

His prayer we call the Nunc Dimittis.  It is included in our Liturgy at the conclusion of our communion, celebrating our participation receiving the promised body and blood of our Lord.  It is our seeing

“LORD, now You are letting your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.”   2:29-32

33. And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Jesus.”  Are you being awed also?

This event is for you, folks, Gentiles to receive the Promise and the Promises, incorporation into Jesus, participants in His work and life for your redemption.

Simeon, tells Mary, and a sword will pierce even your own soul, -- to the end that the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” These are serious words for Mary to store up in her heart.  A sword will pierce her soul standing at the foot of the cross, looking up at Her Son, The One Who is paying the ransom price, with His body and blood, for the many who will hear the Gospel, believe, and Confess Jesus, as Lord.  It came to pass in awe. 

Let us return to the Nunc Dimittis.  It is found at the dismissal of the communicants in the worship service.  Take careful note that leaving early may reveal the thoughts of one’s heart? 

When we come to faith and are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, we have left behind the rejecting of Jesus and His salva-tion for the Kingdom of grace. We have accepted the gift of faith, that our deeds, which is our goal,  may be seen as wrought by God.  Coming to the Communion Table and singing the Nunc Dimittis is a test in faith and truth.  The Song of Simeon, and the benediction reveal the thoughts of our hearts and our faith in the communion of saints.

Before the effect of Simeon’s words can settle in, the Holy Family are greeted by a prophetess, Anna, “the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.”  She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage. [15 plus seven is 22.]  and then as a widow to the age of 84. She can be 84 or 106, the text is not clear. She never left the Temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.  Whatever her age, Luke is intent on impressing her devotion to waiting for the Promise of God.  “At that very moment, she came up and began giving thanks, that is, speaking the praise of God in thanksgiving for what she was seeing.  We are not told how she knows that Simeon and the Child are the one, The Spirit is directing her.  She continued to speak of Him, the Child, to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.  Anna and Simeon, two witnesses to the truth, that the promised Messiah is here in the person and work of the Child, Jesus is evident.  Our Redemption has already come!

What then is our response on this day?  The only true response for Christians hoping to spend eternity with Jesus as their Lord and Savior, is Simeon and Anna’s response, namely, confessing thanks to God for the gift of salvation in the redemption of Israel who is Jesus.  [Jesus, in His circumcision, is the New Israel.]  They went out and spoke to others about This Child.  They acknowledged in confession that this is the Son of God, the redemption of Jerusalem.  He is, “Thy salvation” which Thou hast Prepared before all peoples, a Light to enlighten the Gentiles, that is, call them to faith in Jesus, and the glory of Israel, who preserved the Seed, and remained the people of Israel, God’s people.   This is the gift of grace and God’s favor which is to be received in faith, and acted upon in love, that the world might fall or rise through faith in this sign which is to be opposed.  Jesus is our redemption, He has come to us.  Let us with Simeon and Anna, rejoice and give thanks to God, by carrying His name to the world. Amen.