29/03/17 - Pastor Young
This week at Suburban, we looked at our third and final hymn in the opening month of our series "The Gospel of Jesus According to Luke". It is Simeon's song of praise, sometimes referred to as the Nunc Dimittis -- called this for its opening line in Latin, which translates to "now you dismiss".
So, why a song of praise that starts with "now you dismiss" for the final hymn that we will examine?
In order to answer that question, it's important to look back at the past two weeks, and see that Luke is communicating a unified message through all three of the hymns that introduced us to our series.
The same themes seem to appear in all three of these hymns; at the core, their message is that God's plan comes to pass, His promises are fulfilled, and God acts for His people (so if you've been feeling a bit of déjà vu, there's a reason for that!). However, Simeon's song adds to these by directly associating Jesus with the hope of the world: He is "a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel"!
These call to mind imagery used in Isaiah (if you're unfamiliar and would like to know more, read through Isaiah 40-66 and you'll be blown away). Jesus is the servant that Isaiah spoke of! The victorious hope of salvation that God "has prepared" is here in front of Simeon -- he even gets to hold the child Jesus in his arms!
This, then, is why Simeon can praise by singing "now you dismiss", and why we join with him in our threefold opening salvo of hymns: he had received a promise from the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Messiah, and Simeon held fast to this hope. Now with this promise fulfilled, Simeon can experience the release of his service, like a sentinel who had been tasked with keeping watch until daybreak; the light of the world has come in the form of the child Jesus, and brought salvation to the people living in darkness, and the watcher can be dismissed in peace from his service as his promise fulfilled means that God will fulfill His promise of salvation to His people.
As we witness God's promise to Simeon come to pass, and as we anticipate the hope of salvation come to fruition in Jesus through the coming weeks, we too can join in song to praise His name. With Easter fast approaching, there's no better time than now to anticipate together in praise of Jesus, our light for revelation in the darkness.
Praying for the hope that you have to be a light in your darkness,