What Child Is This?
By Rev Steven R Mitchell
Mountain View United, Aurora, CO 12/30/2012
Based on Luke 2: 22-40
(This sermon is actually being incorporated within the children’s time as part of a multi-generational worship experience.)
What a great passage this morning’s scripture is, as it speaks about two people who are very faithful believers of God. They have spent their whole lives praying and waiting for God to answer one specific prayer and promise of sending to the world a man who will provide salvation for all. This last Monday evening at a candle light service we celebrated the birth of that little baby, whose name is Jesus. In this morning’s story, we continue reading about the life of this little baby as we will do throughout the rest of the church year.
I would like to begin by showing you some pictures that some people have brought to this morning’s worship. Can anyone guess who this person is? What about that person?
So, when you grow up what would you like to be? I would like to ask some of you out in the congregation the same question, “When you were little, what did you want to become?” And as a second part of that question, “When you grew up, what did you actually become?” For myself, I discovered that “what I wanted to become” changed for me at differant ages. For example: when I was very small I wanted to be a fireman, like my dad who was a volunteer fireman, when I got older I wanted to become a world famous surgeon. In Junior High I discovered I loved designing houses, but when I learned I had to take calculus to become an architect that killed that idea. In high school I wanted to become a professional singer. Then I realized that if I were going to support a family, being a professional singer wasn’t the best choice, so I studied and became an accountant. Guess what – I had to take calculus anyway! Well, that wasn’t necessarily the best choice for me, as I was too easily bored and I hated doing bookkeeping. Eventually, I started hearing more clearly a call by God to become a minister, which was the one thing I really didn’t want to do.
So there are a couple of very important points that we can think about with this morning’s story as it relates with Simeon and Anna. I find it amazing at how both Simeon and Anna were able to recognize who Jesus was going to become when he was just a little baby. Scripture gives us a clue to how they were able to recognize who this little baby was. We read that both were being lead by the Holy Spirit, because they prayed a lot.
Simeon, when he saw Jesus, praised God, thanking God for answering the promise that had been given to him many years earlier, that he would not die before seeing the messiah not just of Israel but of the whole world. Have any of you ever been called a “blessing to your parents or to someone else?” What do you think that means? A blessing in its simplest meaning means approval or hopefulness. So when Simeon and Anna saw the baby that Joseph and Mary were bringing into the temple to receive the general blessing that a child would receive when presented by his or her parents, Jesus actually received a special blessing from Simeon and Anna went out sharing the news that God’s most favored one had finally come, and that this baby Jesus was a blessing upon Israel.
We do a similar action when parents bring their baby to be baptized. Baptism is an act of Blessing. If you are an infant, what we do when we are applying the water on your forehead, is making the sign of the cross, which Christians use as the greatest symbol of blessing. Baptism is not an individual act. It is an action of the community of believers. When you are being baptized, the community of faith is committing to help support you in your faith journey and give support as you develop your potential as a child of God.
When a baby is born, one of the things that everyone see’s in the birth of a new baby, is potential. Because of our being human’s and too often caught up in our own interests, we often times project onto the newborn baby our own dreams for that child. My mother for years dreamed that I would become a doctor. Even though I was interested in watching T.V. shows that showed childhood diseases and how Doctors helped cure children, I never really saw myself as a Dr.
When Mountain View was started in 1970, as a new church, it was in effect a baby as well. A group of people who were Presbyterian’s, United Methodis’ts, and United Church of Christ came and in worship gave a blessing upon this new infant congregation. Within that blessing, we were given all the hopes for bringing God’s promise to Aurora and in that blessing was given the power of the Holy Spirit to help us become what God has in store for Mountain View.
So the question that we could ask ourselves this morning would be, “What did we want to be when we grow up?” and now that we are 42 yrs old, “What have we become?” Have we come what we thought we wanted to become or are we something different? I suspect that we are different in many respects to what the original founders had envisioned for us. So maybe the better question would be, “Are we developing into the potential that we possess?”
The reality about life is that it is always in motion. Nothing stays the same. Just like I changed my ideas about what I wanted to be as I grew older, discovering my talents and interests, in listening to the advice of people who saw special gifts in me continue to grow into the best that I can be, so does Mountain View. As a family of faith, we constantly need to be asking:”Are we living up to our potential?” We have been giving the blessing of God to work toward our potential and we have been given the power to achieve our potential, through that original blessing, just as Simeon blessed Jesus as a baby. If we feel that we are not achieving our potential, maybe we are not dreaming “big” enough.
I think whether as young people growing up or as adults, the best practice that one could have is to continually pray that God will guide us to develop the potential that each of us is born with and then listen to how God speaks to us through people like our parents, through our friends, through what we learn in school, by exploring any interests or talents that we have to help us recognize where our potentials lead us, so we can have the most satisfaction about who we are and also contribute the best of who we are to the larger communities that we live in. You are all very special people, God’s blessing and gift to our world. Let God help you learn what your gifts are and help you to share them with everyone that you meet. Amen