Our Worship is Eternal
21On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. 22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lordís Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 33 The childís father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
That sure was a long sermon. That service seemed to go on forever. We were in church for an eternity. Those are not comments that I generally hear at the end of our service, although they may be said. Those were things I can remember thinking and saying to my brothers as we were growing up. We were in church every Sunday and as children it seemed like the sermons were long, that we prayed for every one in the church and like the services were eternal.
At times we think of worship that way. As adults who are so focused on our precious time we sometimes think that worship and the different parts of it go on forever. They donít, but yet our worship is eternal. This morning that is the theme for this sermon It is a long reading. There is a whole lot of material in these verses, but that is not what makes our worship eternal. In fact we are not talking about time. Our worship eternal because we are connected to believers through out history and our worship is eternal because we are connected to our Savior forever.
Sometimes people will ask about the differences between Old Testament and New Testament believers. The only difference is that they looked forward to the Savior, we look back at his work. But we all worship the same saving God. In worship we are connected to believers through out history. This morning we see Old Testament believers worshipping. Simeon and Anna were waiting for their Savior to be born. Mary and Joseph were bringing the Savior to worship. Simeon and Anna both spent their days at the temple worshipping their God who had made a promise, a promise to send a Savior for all people. Anna spoke Godís Word to people and Simeon had been told that he would not die before he saw with his own eyes, the promised messiah. Simeon and Anna were connected to the believers who went before them who first heard the promises of a Savior and repeated them. As we see them worshipping, we see that their worship was eternal.
We worship the same God who made the promise. We worship the same God who was worshipped by Simeon and Anna, Mary and Joseph. As New Testament believers we worship him in light of the fulfillment of his promises. We look back on all the fulfillments of Godís promises. We know Jesus was born. We know what happens later in his life. We know he finishes his perfect life of obedience to God and offers his life as a sacrifice in fulfillment of all those Old Testament pictures. We know he rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven. We know he takes his people home to heaven; that is where Simeon and Anna are. We know he will take us home to be with them and all believers forever. That is why right now our worship is eternal; we are connected to all Godís people throughout history.
Our entire life as believers is worship. Paul says in Romans 12, "In view of Godís mercy offer your bodies as living sacrifices; this is your spiritual act of worship." And yet we recognize that this time on Sunday morning is a specific time to worship God. There are different aspects to our worship. We pray, we hear the Word, we speak the Word, we sing psalms and hymns. We rejoice in our God and his promises. We receive the Lordís Supper and people are baptized. We bring offerings and we encourage one another. We do all the same things that Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna did in these verses.
This helps us to see the eternal nature of our worship as we see our connection to believers in history. But we do worship in different ways. These Old Testament believers were worshipping under the sacrificial system God had set up. He told them when to come to the temple, what they needed to do there and the size or amount of offering they were to bring. The Old Testament worship revolved around the law that God had set up for his people. And in these verses we see examples of our fellow believers willingly obeying God and joyfully worshiping him.
We worship the same God, but our New Testament worship is quite different. We are free to worship when we want, and really how we want. We donít have to bring offerings after a child birth, there are no purification rites we have to go through and we are not required to bring a certain sized offering. Our worship is eternal and we are certainly connected to these believers, but we certainly enjoy freedom in our worship that they did not. And our worship really centers on the good news that Jesus was sacrificed for our sins so we donít need these Old Testament pictures. We enjoy the realty of our forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus. It is a neat way to worship
With all that God has to offer us in worship why do we struggle so? Why is it so hard for us to give God the best of our time and attention? Why is it so hard to give God our first fruit offerings? Why are we so prone to give God what we have left over? Why is it so easy for us to look down our noses at those who worship with us thinking, "If only every one worshipped like I do, if only every one gave like I do." Why does sin so easily creep into our eternal worship? We know the answer. It is because of the sinful corruption that is in our very own heart.
In our text Simeon was described as righteous and devout. The Greek word for devout could be translated conscientious. Simeon thought about what he did as a believer in his life of worship. But he was not perfect. He was not righteous on his own. Simeon was described as righteous for the same reason that we are. He trusted in Jesus for his forgiveness. With our fellow believers in history we look to Jesus and his perfect worship life. The scriptures record for us how Jesus kept the law, not just to gives us an example to follow, but to show us how he obeyed God in our place. Jesusí perfect life is recorded for us so we can be certain that when he gave his life on the cross, it was the perfect sacrifice that God demanded as a payment for our sin. Jesusí resurrection is recorded so that we see God accepted his sacrifice and raised him from the dead to comfort us with the truth that all sin, of all time was completely paid for.
Because of Jesusí work our worship is eternal. We are connected to believers throughout history. Because of Jesusí work we each are connected to our Savior forever. We are connected because he came to save us. At just the right time in history and the perfect place in this world Jesus came to live and die and rise to pay for our sin. He then ascended back to heaven and commissioned his first disciples to go out into the world and share the precious message of his work. That message is what worked faith in our heart and that message is what connects us to our Savior forever.
A striking part of these verses is when Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and said, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." It is also striking to hear what Anna did "She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem." Those believers were connected to their Savior and it showed in their worship and every day life.
We have that same connection to Jesus. We may not have held and seen the Lord Jesus, but we can say with Simeon, "Lord you now let your servant depart in peace," In fact we sing those words almost every time we receive the Lordís Supper. In the Lordís Supper we are assured that we are eternally connected to Jesus as we receive his body and blood. This body and blood of our Lord comfort us with the peace of sins forgiven and assure us that we will be connected to Jesus forever. Certainly we are connected to Simeon who first said those words and more importantly we are connected to our Savior who makes them true for all his believers throughout eternity.
And this Savior continues to meet us in worship. Our entire service focuses on his Word. He meets us as we sing about him, pray on the basis of his Word, hear and study that same word. We see the eternal nature of our service as we talk about Simeon and Anna, Joseph and Mary. And we are constantly assured that we are forever connected to our same Savior, Jesus Christ.
The way that we worship shows the eternal nature of our connections to other believers and to our Savior. We follow a liturgy, which means in our worship we use songs, and readings and responses that are firmly grounded in the scriptures and have been used by believers for hundreds of years and in some instances thousands. We sing psalms like King David did. We join in the song of Mary and the song of Simeon. We use the Apostles creed that has been around since the first century after Jesus. We celebrate the Lordís Supper like the early Christians did. We light candles in worship as believers have done since Old Testament times. There is an eternal nature to our services, not because they are so long, in fact I have been told before that they were sort of short. But our worship is eternal because we have a connection to believers throughout history and we are assured that we are connected to our Savior forever.
If you invite a friend to join you for worship, that friend may ask you what our worship is like. You would use many different words to describe our worship, but you would probably not say, "It is eternal." They might get the wrong idea. But I pray that you see that our services are eternal, not because of the length, but because of the connection, to believers throughout history and to our Savior Jesus forever. In his name, Amen.
Pastor Matt Brown
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (WELS) of Union City, Tennessee, Rooted in the WORD