Well, it’s Christmas time! And of course that means we’re all ready to die. Right?
Christmas time and death? …What do these have in common? What is Tyler talking about? Has he gone cray cray?
…Has Tyler been overly-influenced by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)? Is Tyler denouncing the consumerism commercialism chaos that seems to have hijacked Christmas (i.e. insinuating that materialism is killing us)? Is Tyler hijacking Christmas in order to steer us toward a diatribe about how people need to stop making assumptions and accusations, and start giving people the benefit of the doubt – striving to count others as more significant than themselves (Philippians 2:3)?
Perhaps you’re on to something in that third supposition, and I will not deny that there is certainly a bit of the second hypothesis happening in my brain at the moment. But – simply put – the reason I link Christmas & death is because of a couple of dudes named Simeon and Ed.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25-35)
Simeon saw a baby being presented to the Lord at the temple in Jerusalem. Happens all the time right? No big deal. …Simeon would beg to differ. Simeon encountered the fullness of God (in a helpless baby)! Simeon was meeting, face to face, the same One that the apostle John beholds in Revelation chapter 1 saying, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead”; it’s not quite the same sentiment with Simeon, but it is certainly the same eternal Son of God! Simeon holds the fullness of God in helpless babe, declaring, “My eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel!” This is mind-blowing/boggling! How many other people were there in the temple that day who had no clue that this was God in the flesh? To most people present this seemed like your average low-income family going through the automated religious protocol of superstitiously “presenting their baby to the Lord” in the temple. Seen it a million times. But here’s this guy Simeon going on & on about how “this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed, so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed”! Essentially Simeon says, “CHRISTmas has come! Now I can die!”
On August 18th, 2015 Ed Hague died. I realize that August is not the month we celebrate Christmas, but just yesterday (Dec. 1, 2015) I came across Ed’s obituary and thus I make mention of it here and now. God compelled Ed to know what God compelled Simeon know …and this particular portion struck me as I read Ed’s obituary in the month of December (the same month in which we celebrate the arrival of the fullness of God in helpless babe):
Here’s the most important thing to know about Ed, though. God loved him and made sure that Ed knew it. Hiding from love all of his life, after his cancer diagnosis, God turned the love firehoses on him. (I made this part bold because it’s my fav.).
It was as if He wasn’t going to let him die until every dried up and hardened part of Ed’s heart was showered and soaked in His love. He used an army of people to do this. Ed is certain they are all angels in disguise.
Ed being loved by God? He has no explanation for it other than grace. It was grace that put God’s Son on the cross for Ed’s sins (of which there were many) and then forgave him of those sins – the greatest being his damned self-righteousness.
God then, through Christ, gave Ed another undeserved gift. He took off Ed’s tattered cloak of self-righteousness and gave him the perfect robe of Christ’s righteousness. If you were wondering, that’s how Ed entered the presence of God without being stopped at the door. Ed, amazingly, is now who he was meant to be when God created him. He’s not hiding, he’s not afraid, and he’s even gotten things worked out with his grandmother. He is now fully and completely Ed. If this scares you, he wants you to know he understands, but that you should get over it.
CHRISTmas has come. Death has lost.