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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Thursday, December 30

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.
—Luke 2:33

Fast forward a couple of thousand years, and Joseph and Mary are the couple standing next to you at the grade school open house, listening to their child’s teacher expound on how well their son is doing. 

They are the ones looking over their shoulders to make sure the teacher is really talking to them. Is it really their son who is so extraordinary, their son who is making people talk? As the story of the Presentation of Jesus illustrates, sometimes the parents are the last to appreciate just how special their own child is.

Having brought the infant Jesus to Jerusalem to be dedicated to God, Mary and Joseph are astounded by their reception. Just as they are walking into the Temple, the Gospel narrative tells us, they encounter an old man named Simeon, who takes the baby in his arms and begins praising God for keeping his promise to let him see the Messiah.

“[M]y eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,” the old man exclaims, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Now, Simeon says, he can die in peace.

Although Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus had been chosen by God for some special purpose, the nature of that purpose became clear to them only bit by bit. And even then, as this story demonstrates, it was frequently an outsider, a stranger, who pointed out what they couldn’t see themselves. Might we, too, come to know God’s purposes by degrees? Might we, too, be wise to listen to the unknown sages in our midst?

O God, when the way is confusing and our sense of ourselves is blurred, give us the humility we need to listen to those who can see with more clarity than we.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2004.