A million young poets screamin' out their words;
Maybe someday those words will be heard
By future generations ridin' on the highways that we built.
Maybe they'll have a better understanding;
I hope they'll have a better understanding.
- John Mellencamp
We place a lot of hopes in our young people. Much as the future scares us, we know there’s no choice but to face it. We’re always moving forward, never backward.
Simeon gave a forward-looking prophecy to Mary concerning her only child at the time, the boy Jesus (Luke 2:33-35). He had previously spoken poetic words expressing how the Messiah was to be the embodiment of salvation (in 2:29-32). This brought great excitement and wonder to the parents (in 2:33), but it was only one side of the coin. The prophecy that followed pointed to more difficult things that were coming. Specifically it said…
None of this was promising or hopeful. Maybe Mary started thinking that it would’ve been better if she’d never had kids? But of course we know that’s not true. Where would we be without our savior?
Any godly person, when they are Christ-like, will usually generate a measure of difficulty in the responses that come. It’s a natural byproduct of the intersection between divine inspiration and sinful/fallen humanity. This means that we have to look at both sides of the coin, because there’s a positive side to every part of Simeon’s prophecy…
This is not to deny the darker side of reality. Life is painful, messy, and agonizing at times. And it’s the same way with the church and with Christian ministry. One reason is because we’re imperfect people and we make mistakes along the way.
What can we do about it? It’s not good when we just beat ourselves up. The message of Jesus means that we can repent, let our sins be nailed to His cross, and then move forward with a trust in His grace. This is the best way forward.
Because even if we were perfect (which we aren’t) this tension would still exist. Sometimes rejection and division happen for reasons that are totally beyond our control. But either way, the One we focus on is Jesus – the One who experienced this kind of division and rejection Himself. We believe in His salvation and His light, and the resurrection always follows the bloody cross of agony.
God bless you,
Andrew McHenry, Pastor - First Congregational Church
The blog of Andrew McHenry, Pastor of First Congregational Church of Emporia, Kansas.