First Sunday after Christmas
In our faith tradition we present children to God through baptism. In Jesus’ day Jewish babies were presented in the Temple with the offering of a sacrifice. In today’s Gospel lesson, the presentation of Jesus was an ordinary occurrence, but for Simeon and Anna, this child was anything but ordinary. This child was the fulfillment of years of waiting and anticipation. In Sunday school, this story is usually accompanied by a picture of Simeon smiling at the baby—Simeon, whose smile exhibits joy, hope, and utter delight.
That is also the smile we demonstrate every time a baby is presented to the congregation in the service of baptism. Whenever a pastor holds that baptized baby up for the congregation to see, even the sternest face explodes into a smile of joy and hope. In that moment, the congregation embraces the promise we just made to accept that child and share in nurturing their faith.
So how are we doing at that? How are we, the “congregational parents,” nurturing the faith of those baptized babies and youth? Does our commitment include the development of a personal relationship with those children as they grow?
Look around your sanctuary today. How many children can you identify by name, and how many of those know you by name? Strive diligently to keep those relationships growing, because studies have shown that when a young person has a personal relationship with at least ten adults in a congregation, they are less likely to leave church membership.
Today we smile with Simeon as he sees hope fulfilled in the Christ child. Today and everyday may we also reflect the “Simeon smile” as we nurture the faith and deepen our relationships with the children and youth of our congregations.
Marie Couts, director of Christian education
Moravian Church, Eastern District