Tuesday, December 21, 2010

21st Century Simeon

His name is Merlin, but I call him a modern day Simeon.  You hear this from pastors so often that it's become cliche, but it's still true: most days when we show up for a visit at the hospital, nursing facility or at the "ministering" works both ways.  That's because God hides himself in the masks of Alzheimer and cancer patients, the sick and home bound, the shut-in and those who will never return to their earthly home again.  God is not ashamed of this kind of lowliness, quite the opposite in fact.  He's pleased to work through seemingly weak and frail human instruments to carry His Word to people that need it the most, pastors and patients.  So, some days that means the priests are vested in nursing gowns and bed-pans rather than a stole and alb.

So there I was delivering Christ's Mass to Merlin (no joke, that's really is his name - and a great one at that, for Merlin believes in the "deeper magic" from the dawn of time), reading the Scriptures, praying the liturgy, receiving the incarnate Christ as He comes to us and there Christ was ministering to the both of us in His body and blood in His Word and in His enfleshed proclamation from a pastor to a patient and from patient to pastor.  Talk about the mutual consolation of the brethren!  At the end of my visit - of all things - he thanked me for ministering to him!  And in turn, I told him, "Merlin, thank you for ministering to me."  It wasn't what I was expecting to hear, but it was certainly needed.  And this is what he said:

"You know, I'm 81 years old and no matter how many times I hear the Christmas story, it's always so amazing.  Such amazing love, such hope and promise - that He would do all of that for us.  Christmas is such a joyous time of the year.  You know, when we're younger we're so afraid to die (that's what nailed my old Adam to the wall), but the older you get, the less you worry about that.  I'm not afraid to die; I know where I'm going.  I know the promises of Christ."

"You are Simeon," I simply replied.

"Yes, I suppose that's true."

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem (and in Huntington Beach), whose name was Simeon (or Merlin); and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."

For Merlin, Christmas came this afternoon around 1:30 pm as Jesus came swaddled in bread and wine, lying in the manger of his mouth.  Christmas comes in His body and blood - not just on December 25th - but every Christ's Mass!  What a joy.  What amazing love.  Now it is safe to rest, to sleep, to die in Jesus.  And even though there is a part of Merlin that can't stand being dependent on anyone.  By that same Spirit that was upon Simeon, he knows that we are entirely dependent upon the incarnate Christ who comes at Christmas, comes in His Supper, comes again for us in glory and comes upon humble words between a patient and a pastor.  Lord, now lettest thou thy servants depart in peace.  Amen.  Merry Christs's Mass.

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