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“Our hands on His”/ Sermon for December 31st, 2023 / Christmas 1 and New Year’s Eve / Hope Lutheran Church, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht

Text: Luke 2:22-40; Galatians 4:4-7

Theme: “Our Hands on His”

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IntrWhen I was a child, I remember enjoying a super power I thought I had: I could cover things with my hand. Like as if I could cover some people here in the Church, some instruments, or our big cross. If I was outside now, I could even cover a few mountains to the north. Of course, upon closer inspection one realizes that I would be deluding myself. It is not that people and things are covered, but my eyes are being blocked in their field of vision. Depending on what is in front of my eyes, I can no longer see clearly. This is connected to the Parallax effect, which explains why things that are distant from us look smaller than they are, and if you are in movement, they seem to move slower than what is near to you.

We have a whole New Year right in front of our eyes. In a few hours, 2024 will weigh in our daily conversation with its expected features and its unforeseen circumstances. What do you think is your superpower to face this new year?

-That you can cover all the bases with the strength you have in your hands?
-That you can cover your sins and problems with your bare hands?
-That you can use your resources to make things happen the way you want?

Look at Simeon in the Gospel today: what does he have in hands? A superpower? No, but he holds the “Super-powerful”, the Almighty God in the shape of a baby fulfilling a promise to all Israel, and a personal promise revealed to Him by The Holy Spirit. The Very Messiah was right in front of his eyes and in the palm of His hands.

Think about it for a minute. He was holding God in His hands. Yes, God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-in-all…right there in front of his eyes. Usually, we think of God holding us in His hands.     Here we see Simeon holding God in His. Mary and Joseph are in Jerusalem, and he has the opportunity to hold Jesus. And his words are: “For my eyes have seen your salvation.” That scene seems just natural, Simeon sees Jesus. But it is actually very special. Simeon might have had many things in front of his eyes that would prevent him to see Jesus, even though he might have though he was just right in doing so:
-His name and lineage, his family name;
-The way many saw the Bbile in his time;
-His own pride.
However, he declares that his eyes are now seeing in his arms the salvation that God had prepared to His people Israel. Because his vision is not blocked, he can see Jesus clearly as He is. This is something that can happen through faith, and faith alone. Simeon trusted in what God had put right in front of His eyes. Now he can depart in peace.

How do you look to what God places in front of your eyes? Do you accept His will and walk in his ways into the New Year no matter what? Or do you think you can take matters with your own hands and see what not even God can see? Sometimes we think that stepping into a New Year is a matter of presenting our schedule and plans to God and requesting his “amen” to what we think is the best for us.

This connects back to my superpower illustration. Simeon saw Jesus directly; he didn’t allow any of those things to be in front of his eyes. Looking ahead into the New Year, what are the things that can block your vision so that, while you think you have a super-power of defining future? What can make you blind to what things really are?
-Fear -Excess anxiety -Blindness in the search for personal and professional success -Busyness – Bad attitudes we won’t give up, -Doing all the right things to get all the right results; divinations and superstitions.

As we begin a new year, we look ahead and we hope for the best, but sometimes we don’t see it clearly. Or we think we got it all covered, but it is our eyes that are not seeing properly. However, the beginning of a new year is a good time to realize that many things can come in front our eyes that may blind us to what is the most important. That can even be things that we would consider good and salutary, but if not well used, would cause us to lose sight of the salvation that God has prepared for us in Christ. Many things in life are important, but they become a problem if they get in the way of what is essential. Or if they become the only thing we see.

Jesus died with his hands and arms wide open so that by faith what blocks our way to the Father, sin, is removed. Now our hands, our own intentions, instead of blocking our vision, would be wide open to receive the gifts he places in our hands.

In the end, this is what we need: Our hands on His. With our hands wide open to receive God’s superpowers in our heart and soul, we know that we can start the new year hand in hand with assurance, love, peace, and strength. As your hands are on his, your eyes are open to see clearly and precisely, to see life as it is. As we are loved unconditionally by God, we are free to love and serve our neighbors with our life of love, respect, search for truth and coherence between our words and our life.

 

Simeon. He holds God in his own hands. I wish you and I could have that privilege too…… Well, it is within the reach of our hands indeed!

Scriptures – Jesus is the Word of God. He is with you in His word in your hands. The power of God’s Word is immeasurable and still, he places it right in your hands.
Holy Communion – Christ’s real presence in your hands. Body and blood of Christ with bread and wine which are super powerful to forgive and comfort your heart.

Also, don’t forget the superpower he has placed in your hands as you fold them in Prayer. Pray and let God worry. The power of prayer is not about what we do, but what He does. It is not about our precision, but His promise.

By the way, remember the parallax effect I mentioned at the beginning? Things that are distant seem to be smaller than they are. And they “move slower” than things near you. For example, when you are driving, things near to the car seem to “move faster” than mountains at a distance. It is related not to movement, because they are not moving, but with your angle of vision related to them. As you move into the New Year and things seem to be too fast for you to catch up or even keep up, it’s time to stop and think if we are keeping too close to us things that may be important, but that distance us from God, who then looks smaller and slow-moving. However, He is never slow; he is never late. As we see things through this angle – His Word – we will always experience his steadfast and unshakable love that sustain our hands and feet in the Way that is Christ.


Cc –
That time when Jesus multiplied food, he said one phrase upon hearing about the scarce number of fish and loaves to feed thousands: “Bring it to me.” That means, “place them in my hands”. Remember, your hands are not super powerful to deal with life on your own. His are. Place your hands on His, as adopted child that you are as Paul told us in Galatians 4. Walk into the new year with your hands on His. The loving Hands of our Heavenly Father.

 

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THE MARGARET TOWRISS’ MEMORIAL SERVICE AND RECEPTION

This Saturday, February 24th, we will hold The Memorial Service, followed by a Reception, for Margaret Towriss, wife of our former Pastor Rev. Ron Towriss, and co-founder of Hope Lutheran School.  Given the impact of her legacy both in Church and community, we anticipate a large attendance for both events. Therefore, we wish to share general information about the events with those attending in person.

SERVICE

-Memorial Service: 1:00PM @ Hope Lutheran Church (3151 York Street)

-Church capacity: aprox. 300

-Overflow area: As the Sanctuary and the Narthex become full, there will be an overflow area in four classrooms in the South annex for those willing to watch the Service together.

-Livestream: the Service will be livestreamed on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hopelcspoco

-Parking lot: It will be open on a “First come, first served” basis. When full, it will be closed, and people are invited to park in the adjacent streets and in the neighbourhood. However, drivers can still drive through to drop of passengers by the Church door, and then drive away.

-Overflow Parking: We have graciously obtained the permission from the Ecole Pionniers to use their Parking lot as overflow parking. Hope’s School Bus will be available for shuttling people from that parking lot to the Church from 12pm-4pm. Address: 1618 Patricia Ave

-Memorials: The Towriss family’s suggestion is that memorials be directed to The Hope Lutheran Bursary Fund. A Memorial box to deposit your donation will be available at the Church, as well as QR codes printed in the Church bulletin.

RECEPTION:

-Event: Following the Service we will have a standing reception in the gymnasium (since there’s no room for tables for such a large attendance). However, coffee stations will be placed in other areas of the building, allowing attendants to spread out more comfortably.

-Chairs – Several dozen chairs will be available around the Gym’s Court, which we hope will be left open for seniors and people with special needs.

-Space: During the reception, attendants may feel free to make use of our facilities as needed - Gymnasium, Narthex, Sanctuary and South Annex.

Hope Lutheran Church and School and the Towriss family thank you in advance for your understanding of the exceptional circumstances of both events. But especially, for your presence and support. Thank you!