Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 01-05-20 Sermon – “A New Beginning”

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Luke 2:22-40; Galatians 4:4-7; Isaiah 61:1-62:3

Just five days ago, people around the world were celebrating the beginning of a new year. For many, this celebration is considered a new beginning, a fresh start, another opportunity to do things better. And regardless of our creed, social status, or race, people around the world received 2020 with hope,  hoping that everything will be better for us and the world, that in this New Year, we will be able to do those things we desire. And to assure this, many people received 2020 with different traditions. Here in the USA, many received the New Year kissing another person, so they can guarantee that love will be part of their lives the whole year. In Spain, they did it eating 12 grapes, one for each month so that they can have prosperity every month. In Italy, for the same reason, they received the new year eating Lentils. In Latin America, many received the new year with luggage at the door with the hope that they will travel, and many Christians around the world received the new year praying and singing in their churches.

All these traditions and many others have one purpose, which is, to have a good beginning so they can have a good rest of the year. They believe that by doing all these different traditions, they will have a blessed year, or as many people say: “they will be lucky.” New beginning and hope go hand in hand when a New Year begins.

The Gospel we read invites us to praise and thank God, to be attentive and perseverant. Invites us to recognize God acting, and to share with others what He is doing. In the Gospel we find two witnesses of the One who brings God’s salvation, Anna and Simeon. They both recognize the long-expected Savior in the baby whom Mary and Joseph were presenting in the Temple. They saw in this baby, Israel’s redemption and they worshiped Jesus. After that, they just had to share with others what they knew about the child-Messiah.

What if this new year, we all follow their example of being attentive and obedient to God’s voice? Notice that Luke says that Simeon “was guided by the Spirit.” The Spirit did not say, “go meet the Messiah, who is Jesus, the baby of Joseph and Mary.” Jesus was just another baby whose parents were presenting him at the Temple. Babies being presented in the Temple was something that happened all the time. There was nothing special about Mary or Joseph that would have made Simeon and Anna know they were the mother and father of our Savior. But both Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus when they saw Him.

This new year let us allow the Holy Spirit to guide our life, so we can recognize Jesus when we see him, regardless of how He comes to us. Anna and Simeon recognized the Messiah when they saw the Baby. They knew this Baby was Jesus, our Savior. This new year let us be expectant because Jesus can come to us in different shapes and forms. Remember Matthew 25:37-40, “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” To the righteous, Jesus came as humans hungry and thirsty; He came as a stranger and as someone needing clothes, and they were moved by love to help, and by doing so, they helped Jesus.

After recognizing Jesus, they did the natural thing to do. They worshipped Him, as the Wise Men and the Shepherds did. Simeon worships Jesus because he realized who the Baby boy was, and Anna did the same. And part of that worship was telling everyone about Him. In Simeon’s song, verse 32, he recognized that the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of God’s people, was not just for God’s people. He came to save the world. Simeon, guided by the Holy Spirit, sees it right away and knows that Jesus is salvation for all, a light for non-Jewish people to see.

Anna, she thanked God and right away goes out and tells people about Jesus. She spoke to those who were waiting for God. Can we do the same? Can we have our spiritual eyes open to see Jesus when he come to us, and worship Him, and give Him thanks, and then share our experience with others?

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