The Purification of Mary and Presentation of Our Lord: “Depart in Peace”
February 2, 2020 – Luke 2:29-32
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Depart in Conflict
The words of Simeon at the end of our Gospel reading start by talking about departing in peace. What does departing in peace look like? To help us figure out what departing in peace looks like, let us look at what departing in conflict looks like.
Departing in conflict? That’s like when you go into Safeway(s) for groceries with 12 things on your list and you only managed to find 8 of the things. You’ve looked and looked for cilantro but they just seem to be out of it. There was a really good sale on chicken breasts but you can’t seem to find that either. And a couple more things you never managed to get. So you walk up to the till with your shopping cart not quite as full as it should be, and you leave the store. Not in peace, but departing in conflict thinking you should have checked another place or asked if they moved something on you. That is departing in conflict.
Or when you’ve gone into a counselling session and instead of feeling better at the end and having some things resolved you feel enraged that you weren’t listened to or understood!
Or when you see a child happily playing with toys and their parent tells them it is time to go. After some more prodding, they start crying because they have to leave and don’t want to. That is departing in conflict.
Or when you get a phone call that someone you love has just been taken into hospital. You stop and leave what you are doing and everything freezes as you go off to be with them. You left the house in a mess and you depart conflicted.
As you lie on your deathbed, about to leave the world, if it is sudden or expected, there is often a part of you that is conflicted about leaving the world. There is fear about the unknown. There is conflict in you that knows death is wrong and not natural and this process is foreign to the way we were created.
Departing in conflict happens because, in all of these cases, you are clinging to something you do not want to lose or desiring something that you do not have. Desire is the heart of a lot of heartaches.
Simeon desired to see the Lord’s Christ, the one God had promised in the OT. Simeon clung to God’s promise God made to Him through the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the promised saviour.
Simeon did not want to leave the world the way it was. The world desperately needed a saviour and he wanted to have the peace of knowing the saviour had come and the world would be okay.
Sin leaves the world in a bad place. Sin leaves the world damned. Sin in the world, Adam and Eve’s first sin, your sin, my sin, every single human’s sin, causes death.
As you go throughout your week, do you realize your own sin and are struck with the fear of dying?
Do you think to yourself, “I can’t depart from this life because my life’s a mess!” “There are so many things to fix… there are so many things to make right…” We cling to the precious life that God has given us to live.
Peace is not clinging to, or desiring, things in this life. Peace is leaving the grocery store with everything you came for. Peace is feeling whole and understood after a counselling session. It is being able to bring your toy with you or bringing your friend along with you when you have to go. It is leaving the house with everything in order ready for you to come back home. Peace is lying on your deathbed ready to leave this world knowing that all your problems, and all your sins, have been forgiven in Christ.
How do you let go of clinging or desiring in order that you may have peace as you leave?
As you ask yourself the questions, “Will the world be okay? Will my sin bring me to hell? Will all the things I’ve left undone be finished? Will I ever breathe and live on this earth again?”
How do you respond? Where do you find your peace with these questions?
Simeon literally saw and held Jesus as a little baby. 40 days old [Harm is just a little bit older now than Jesus was then]. Simeon saw Jesus and knew from God that this was the Christ. This little baby was the promised one who would save all people from their sins. And Simeon, he asks God to let him depart in peace because God’s promise he clung to had been fulfilled. He could depart in peace because Jesus had come into the world and taken care of all his questions and the things he clung to.
It is fitting that this song Simeon sings is a part of our liturgy, too. We sing it after having received communion. We see Jesus’ body and blood in the sacrament, and we hold Him in our own hands. In this sacrament, God comes to us and our sins are all forgiven. We have peace.
The world? Jesus has died for its sins and is restoring it to perfection. Sin? Forgiven by His blood. Things left undone? Forgiven. Life? Eternal that is given to you now through your baptism.
We see and behold Jesus like Simeon and we sing His song asking God to let us go in peace because we have seen His salvation which is for all people.
We can leave the church after service in peace. We can leave the places we live in peace. We can leave this life in peace. All because of Jesus, who has forgiven our sin, and given us peace.