I had a unique opportunity today to do something I've never done at Christmas time: attend a funeral. An older member of our church choir passed away last week, and we volunteered to sing at her service today. Amazingly, 82 of us showed up in the middle of the work week to sing.
Our pastor is a gifted speaker, and always can capture the essence of a moment when he speaks, whether it's a funeral, wedding or just any given Sunday. In this instance, the choir had just sung a Nunc dimittis (in English) that Sarah had loved, that also corresponded with what he had just preached on the week prior: Simeon's witnessing of the arrival of Jesus.
When Simeon saw Jesus, he basically said, "well that about wraps it up for me." He was a God-fearing man who knew God's will for his life because he had spent so much time with Him. So much, in fact, that he knew without a doubt that God had told him that he would not see death before he had seen the Messiah. The Bible says that Simeon had spent his whole life "waiting for the consolation of Israel."
Today, we generally think of "consolation" as "second place" or something you do when someone is grieving. The more appropriate term for what Simeon was looking for is the Greek paraclesis which is a broad concept with a positive connotation, encompassing comfort and redemption together. The tie-in for Frank today was simple - Sarah was a gregarious "wide-eyed" person, and we know that she had seen and accepted the Savior, allowing her to "depart in peace" and be with Him today.
Just like Simeon, I hope that you find an opportunity this Christmas to look into the face of the Christ Child, and see the paraclesis for all mankind... and for yourself.
P.S. Greek Scholars, I know that it's probably more appropriate to use the spelling paraklesis, but I think the c looks more elegant.