🎄 A Single Glance
A Single Glance
by Joe Moreland
When I was a kid, it was always difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Like every other child in the world, I was restive with anticipation. My siblings and I were not allowed out of bed until the sun came up, but we were always awake before then, lying in our beds, waiting for that first ray of sunlight to break through our bedroom curtains.
In a flash we were up and racing down the stairs to wake up Mom and Dad. I never could understand how they could be so unenthusiastic about the whole thing. They would practically sleepwalk out to the kitchen, making us wait the eternity it took for them to make a pot of coffee, pour out a cup, mix in the cream and sugar and (finally!) join the rest of us in the living room for the grand present-opening ceremony.
Now, as an adult with children of my own, I understand all too well how parents can end up less than enthusiastic when Christmas morning finally arrives. While the children are lying awake upstairs in eager anticipation, my wife and I are usually working until the wee hours of the morning, wrapping and placing all the remaining presents under the tree.
When the not-so-little-anymore children come romping down the stairs to wake us up, I am now the one who heads to the kitchen for a cup of coffee while my kids wait impatiently in the living room. Once my cup is full, I rejoin the children by the Christmas tree. As the first rush of caffeine hits my body I begin to perk up a little. Like a baseball player standing in the on deck circle, I take a few practice swings to limber up.
“Who’s ready for PRESENTS?” I tease.
As everybody shouts and screams “ME!”, I rise and head back to the kitchen for another cup of coffee. Groans of anguish follow me all the way to the coffee pot.
Finally back to my designated spot in front of the tree, I sit patiently, sipping my coffee as the kids begin to get the hint and start to quiet down some. When I have their undivided attention, I pull out my bible. This is the part that differs from when I was a kid. Maybe it’s part of the reason I can drum up some energy after long weeks of Christmas sticker-shock therapy, and being up most of the previous night. This is the moment where we get to talk about what Christmas is “really” about.
I’m sure almost every Christian family spends time doing this on Christmas day. Many of them are probably a lot better at it than I. My wife and I have discussed bringing home the point by being less caught up in the worldly view of Christmas; the lights, the decorations, the presents and malls. But we just love the excitement and fun too much. We know the memories we create at this time of the year will carry us through our old age, as well as create lifelong ones for the children.
So, instead, I use the moment before we open presents, to tell the kids a story I feel relates the point well.
“Simeon,” I begin, “was an old man who wanted to die.”
“Was he sick?”
You may be curious as to who was asking what question, but, I don’t remember so we’ll just skip that part.
“No. He was not sick. He was old and long past the time when many of his friends and family had already died. But God had promised Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Savior.”
“The Bible says in Luke, Chapter 2, that Simeon had lived a righteous and devout life, dedicated to God. Maybe God wanted to give him something the old man had wanted his entire life. A chance to see the Lord come to save all of mankind.”
“Did he get to see him?”
“Have you ever known God to break a promise? Simeon went to the temple every day, hoping that today would be the day he finally saw Christ. I imagine that he went to bed every night, wondering if tomorrow would be ‘The Day’.”
“How long did it take, Daddy?”
“Well, we don’t really know. There are some who believe Simeon lived to be more than two hundred years old. The Bible doesn’t say for sure, but I get the impression that it was a long time. Years at least. Maybe not two hundred, but a long time.”
“Well, one day, not too long after Jesus was born, Simeon was at the Temple, just as he was every day, when Mary and Joseph showed up carrying Jesus, and Simeon saw them and knew the baby was the Messiah.”
“How did he know?”
“Now that is a very good question. When I walked into the room from the kitchen, how did you know it was me?”
“You’re our Dad. We see you every day. We know you.”
“That’s right. Simeon was a devout man. A righteous man. He knew God. When he saw that baby, he knew it was God because he could recognize Him. All it took was a single glance. Just like how you recognize me.”
“Simeon prayed on the spot. He said, ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’” (Luke 2, 29-32, ESV)
“That, kiddos, is the story of the first Christmas present. Sometimes you ask me ‘what do we give God for Christmas?’ Our gift to Him is to see Him the way Simeon did. To really know Him.”
“Now. Who WANTS PRESENTS?”