- The Leprosy Mission Australia
- Nov 24, 2023
Dr Greg Clarke
CEO, The Leprosy Mission Australia
One of my favourite parts of the Bible’s Christmas story is known as the Nunc dimittis. In English, that translates as “Now dismiss”,
These are the first two words of the speech of Simeon in Luke 1:29-32:
"Now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all the nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."
I particularly love the fact Simeon is moved to cry out these words while he is giving the child Jesus a bear hug! This scene doesn’t get much of a run in Christmas pageants (why not?) but it is extremely comforting for anyone living in troubled times such as we are today.
Simeon, a devout Jew, has been patiently waiting for what God has promised for generations: the arrival of the source of salvation. Simeon obviously knew his Isaiah prophecies, because his words on seeing the baby Jesus echo Isaiah 40: God’s “comfort” has arrived: “Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God”. Now I can relax, Simeon might have said in 2023, because I know God will keep his promises and finish his plans for the world.
But Simeon has more to say. In the verses that follow, he declares that Jesus will be a ‘boat-rocker’ across Israel, laying bare the hearts of those who encounter him and causing grief even to his own mother. This little child is destined to cause a stir.
Suddenly, the stakes are raised. Jesus is not just a comfort but also the source of righteous judgement. The comfort will come at a cost, and Easter will have to follow Christmas. The comfort of salvation will require great sacrifice. But it will come, despite what we see around us in this troubled world, and with Simeon, we can take Jesus in our arms and praise God, saying “Our eyes have seen your salvation!”
This is the gift of Christmas to all who are waiting, yearning, and suffering: God’s plan is unfolding, and the birth of Jesus reveals it to us. It is also a motivating message of certainty for the work of the The Leprosy Mission, as we carry hope and relief to sufferers around the world.
From all at Leprosy Mission Australia, we wish our readers, supporters, and friends a peaceful, relaxing and safe Christmas season and God’s blessings for the year ahead. Thank you for being part of our mission in 2023.
In 2024, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Leprosy Mission’s work around the world. Do keep in touch with all that we have planned, and we look forward to seeing you at events around the country.