January 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends in Christ,

Two of my favorite biblical figures are Anna and Simeon found in Luke 2:22-38. I appreciate them because they are clear about their priorities. These two wise souls know what they want. They know what they're longing for. They know what truly matters.

Depending on how you translate the scriptures, Anna is either 84 years old or she has been a widow for 84 years. Either way, Anna is an older, more mature woman who lives for God. She spends night and day in the temple worshiping the Lord, fasting and praying and yearning for the redemption of Israel. Anna is a devout woman who wants nothing more (or less) than to dwell in the presence of the Lord. Her heart's desire is to see God's promises fulfilled.

Simeon is also identified as righteous and devout, touched by the Holy Spirit. He too spends his time in the temple watching and waiting for the Lord's coming. He lives in daily anticipation of the fulfillment of God's promises. God's promise to Simeon is really quite specific: he will not experience death until he has seen the coming of God's anointed one, the Christ. Seeing the Christ, witnessing God's salvation first hand, this yearning fills Simeon's heart. This longing governs his life from day to day.

What a glorious moment it must have been for Anna and Simeon when Mary and Joseph appeared in the Jerusalem temple with the baby Jesus. How their spirits must have soared, their hearts quickened. Before their very eyes God's promises were brought to fruition. In their very presence, God's salvation was revealed, so close they could cradle it in their arms. What joy to know that a new day was dawning for the faithful of Israel and for all people. Scripture tells us that the sight of this infant Jesus brought praise and thanksgiving to the lips of these old saints. The sight of the Christ child brought peace and joy to their hearts.

January is here. According to the secular calendar, January 1 marks the beginning of a new year. Many will gladly bid farewell to 2010 hopeful that 2011 will somehow bring better times. No doubt many greet the new year with a list of hopes and dreams, yearning for a better future. Some may wish for health, others for wealth. Some may seek a new job or a new home or greater educational opportunities. Some may long for healed and restored relationships. Some may dream of seeing foreign lands and visiting exotic places. The new year invites us to consider what we're longing for, to ponder anew what we care about, what truly matters to us.

In this new year may we see the world through Anna's eyes. May we greet the dawn in the spirit of Simeon. May we learn from those who waited and longed for the coming of Christ, to value that which matters most. May we share Anna's and Simeon's joy at seeing and holding the Christ child. May we know the confidence and satisfaction of serving a God who keeps his promises. In 2011, may our hearts desire be for Jesus, plain and simple. May our deepest longing be for Jesus, full of glory and mystery, our hope, our light and our salvation. In this new year may you know what truly matters and may you seek him with all your heart and soul, mind and strength. God bless you with rich spiritual blessings throughout 2011.

Yours in Christ's Service,

Rev. Peggy Ann Sauerhoff