God has enabled us to experience the presence of God – Immanuel – during this Advent season. Reading the meaning of Advent from our own living contexts will always empower us to understand the meaning of Christ’ event in a contextually relevant manner.
Simeon’s prayer is the prayer of the early Church who could indeed witness to the manifestation of Christ by demonstrating divine intervention in a meaningful way.
In Palestine, there were a number of people who were not counted to be full citizens of the land as they were denied many basic rights. They were known as “undocumented people.” Simeon surely felt the presence of God in the Christ’ event, hence this affirmation: “My eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2.30). The implications of seeing salvation are multilayered as it touches socio-political, religious-cultural horizons in the life of a community. It is an invitation to be with God in whatever way it is possible.
C. S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity declares: “There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it turns to him and bad when it turns from him.” Therefore, Advent is indeed an invitation and space to know God in order to continue our life with the support and empowerment from God. The overall meaning of Advent is summarized in this affirmation: “My eyes have seen your salvation”.
In a context of religious persecution, intolerance, climate justice, gender equality and new forms of economic calamity, it is our responsibility to affirm the salvific power of the Christ event. The early church also encountered ethnic conflicts and racial issues. However, the message of Advent enabled the followers of Christ to encounter them by peaceful means.
Gradually, the early Church developed a space for intervention to find solutions to establish a just, free, and peaceful society. In today’s context of complex challenges and issues, it is important for us to encourage the local communities to stand for the meaning and message of Christ’ event as Disciples of Christ. Dennis Fisher in this context states: “The more we learn about life in our world, the more we recognize God’s eternal power and worship Him as Lord of Creation.”
Simeon had seen the eternal power of God’s manifestation in Jesus Christ as he could state with confidence: “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” (Luke 2:29-31). The Deepest truth is hidden in his words of prayer and solidarity. It is a discovery with the help of divine power and eternal life.
Rev Dr C I David Joy is currently Professor of the New Testament at the Kerala United Theological Seminary, Trivandrum, Kerala (India).
Photo contributed by LUMO project