I don’t think I have ever understood what it meant to “long” for something until the last few years.  I mean, really understood it.  I think I am starting to get it. 

I know what the definition is.   It is strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant.  Such as being filled with a longing for home.  When I doublechecked myself on the definition I found this example: a longing to see old friends.  How timely! But it is one thing to know the definition of such a word and quite another to experience it.  I have been thinking about this over the last few years. But it wasn’t until the COVID19 pandemic and the subsequent stay-at-home orders that it really hit home.  I long to shake hands again.  I long to hug the people of my church again. I long to be able to sit closer than six feet and have a cup of coffee with someone. I long for the day masks will no longer be necessary. 

I am not the first to long for something.  I was thinking about God’s chosen people, the Israelites, who longed for their Messiah for generations.  From the time God’s promise of a Messiah became clear, his people looked for the Chosen One to appear.  It is hard for Christians today to comprehend that kind of longing.  We have the gift of hindsight.  Jesus has already come.  He has already died. He has already risen.  But the Jews of Jesus’ day had to wait. 

Luke writes about one man who was longing for the Messiah.   “And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” (Luke 2:25-26) When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, Simeon in the power of the Holy Spirit, knew the promise had been fulfilled.  As he held Jesus in his arms he said,  “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,      According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32) Simeon’s longing was over! He knew that Jesus was the promised Messiah. 

I don’t know how long Simeon lived after he held baby Jesus, but I have no doubt he was ready to go.  How he must have rejoiced over God’s gracious gift to him! 

My longing is not at the same level as Simeon’s.  I do still long for the things I have mentioned, and more.  I do share a part of Simeon’s longing however.  All Christians do. We are longing to see Jesus too!  We too have a promise given to us.  We have the promise of being with Jesus for eternity. Paul says we will be glorified with Him!  Yes, I long to shake hands and give hugs again. But more than that, I long to see Jesus!

Pastor Farrel
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