Context: As my energy dwindles, I’m becoming less able to receive and write new material every day. This means I sometimes have to use a piece I wrote a while ago.
I always try to choose the most appropriate, and to bring it up to date as best I can. However, it’s hard not to feel a sense of letting you all down when I do so.
Early yesterday morning, while I was praying, I realised that it’s not a personal failure when I don’t receive and write something new. In fact such days can be extremely helpful, because they give me time to process and absorb what God has already shown me. It can also be a relief to rest more that day, without the pressure of having to express something new in words.
Later on, whilst saying grace over my breakfast, I found myself ending my prayer with these words: “Let it be unto me according to thy will.”
When I looked this phrase up, I discovered that it is not a direct quote from any of the Bibles I use, though this had been my working assumption. Instead, it draws on four separate verses:
- Mary’s response to the angel at the Annunciation: “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38; KJV).
- The sentence given to us by Christ when he taught us how to pray: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; RSV).
- Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he fully faced the inevitability of the cross: “I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
- Simeon’s prayer when he took Jesus in his arms at the presentation in the temple: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word” (Luke 2:29; KJV).
I plan to incorporate the first three of these verses into my prayers every day, and to use Simeon’s dedication as I’m dying. But may my last words be Christ’s final cry on the cross: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46; KJV).
Reading: Luke 2:21-32; NLT
Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”