Either start with a story from your own experience about people having very different expectations or use this paragraph… Expectations are important, especially when our expectations differ from those of someone else. If your idea of a great first date is a bag of fish and chips by the river and your potential partner’s is a posh meal in a Michelin starred restaurant then somebody is going to end up disappointed. If you expect an interview to be informal and turn up in jeans and a hoodie when your prospective employers expect a suit and tie then things aren’t guaranteed to go well.
In today’s passage we have 5 people. Centre stage is Jesus, who is 40 days old. Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise to our second character Simeon who is having the most exciting day of his life. This is the only time Simeon is mentioned in the bible and we are told that he is quite old and that a number of years ago God promised him he would see the arrival of the long awaited Messiah.
Have you ever had to go and meet a complete stranger at a train station or airport? If so you’ll know the challenge of trying to spot someone that you don’t really know anything about.
Well, Simeon has been doing that for years. We don’t know but maybe there had been times when he had seen someone and said “God, is this the one?” only to be told “No, not yet”?
I wonder if he ever thought that God would say “This is the one” about a six week old baby?
Many people in Israel were excited about their saviour arriving but many of them refused to believe Jesus was the one because he did not live up to their expectations.
We don’t know much about what Simeon expected the Messiah to be like because the bible doesn’t tell us but we do know that when presented with the six week old Jesus Simeon was able to put aside any expectations that had built up over the years and allow God to do what God wanted to do.
The next two characters in our story are Mary and Joseph who have been on something of a rollercoaster ride these last 11 months; angels, pregnancy, long journeys, a stable, shepherds… Yet I wonder, like all new parents, how they thought Jesus’ life would pan out. Did they know the great things that God had in store for Jesus, for the man he would grow into?
Surely the very last thing they would expect is that he would be rejected by so many, that he would be murdered by the very people he was going to save. In this passage God, so very graciously, through Simeon, shapes their expectations, giving them a little insight into the future because their expectations and God’s plan would be so radically different.
Then last of all there is Anna, who was so excited about seeing the saviour of the world that she just had to go and tell everyone about him.
Each of us has expectations of God, when we pray we expect God to answer our prayers. We cling to God’s promises to us in the bible, and the personal promises we feel that he has given to us just like he did to Simeon; we expect amazing and wonderful things from God.
What would have happened if Simeon had refused to believe that this little 6 week old baby was the saviour of the world? What would he have missed out on if he had not let God shape his expectations?
We’re going to take some time now to think about our own expectation and they ways God sometimes doesn’t do what we expect in the way we expect.
Own your expectations:
- Resources needed:
- Felt Tip Pens
- Instructions (Printed or on a powerpoint slide)
Simeon was holding onto what God had promised. What do we expect from God? Do we have dreams, plans and hopes for our futures that are based in him and his promises?
Draw a picture or write a paragraph describing what you hope life will be like for you in five, ten or twenty years time – what will you be doing? Where is God in those hopes and dreams? How are they shaped by God?
Might the expectations that you have of God now need to change in order for these things to happen?
Discuss your picture or paragraph with a someone at your table.