by Cynthia Ruchti

With a January first novel deadline, staying focused on two things at once–doing the book justice and honoring the meaning of Christmas–has been a little like walking a balance beam. In snow boots. In the dark. In an ice storm. While carrying a pot of soup filled to the brim. Challenging, slippery, clumsy, and downright messy.

I have glitter on my coffee table that may not get cleaned up for weeks. None of the presents are wrapped. Although I promised myself 2015 would be the year I finally send Christmas cards or at least a Christmas letter to family and friends, I might have to break that promise. My tree is up, but I left half the traditional decorations in bins on the front porch, mentally labeling them “unnecessary for this year.”

image courtesy of Cynthia Ruchti

What hasn’t been neglected, though, is in-depth study of the first two chapters of the book of Luke as part of my heart’s preparation for Christmas. Fascinating details. Heartwarming. Hope-giving. Refreshing.

This week, I’ve lingered on the story of Simeon, a righteous and devout man of God who was present when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for His official naming and the traditional religious ritual.

It’s said of Simeon that “the Holy Spirit rested on him,” Luke 2:25 CEB. What a tribute! It carried him through a long and venerable life, propelled by a Spirit-directed assurance that before he died, he would see the Savior of his people. Of all the baby boys brought to the temple, this one–Jesus–caught his eye. Simeon knew in an instant this was the promised Messiah for whom he had daily prayed.

God’s Word tells us that though likely a stranger to Mary and Joseph, Simeon “took Jesus in his arms and praised God,” Luke 2:28 CEB. Give and take. He took Jesus in his embrace and gave thanks to God.

And isn’t that the response God is looking for from all of us this Christmas? Give and take? Or rather, take and give? We embrace the Christ and give praise to God for the Gift too precious for words, the Gift that changes everything, the One who gives us reason to sing and reason to hope, not just at Christmas, but perpetually.

image courtesy of Cynthia Ruchti

Simeon’s expression on seeing–embracing–Jesus was the equivalent of “I can die a happy man.” Nothing more in life could have topped that moment when he saw Salvation with his own eyes.

He took Jesus and gave God praise.

Sounds like a pattern worth emulating, doesn’t it?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. Recent releases include An Endless Christmas (Worthy Publishing), As Waters Gone By (Abingdon Fiction), and Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Wounded Soul (Abingdon Christian Living). She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.