Christmas: Waiting on God
- Explore how life often involves waiting on God
- Look to God for help and salvation
- Celebrate the birth of Christ—the answer to our prayers
The practice of prayer often requires patience and waiting. The Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to explore these qualities, because we often find ourselves in a posture of waiting as Christmas approaches. Advent is a waiting season, highlighted by expectation and hope. The young teens in your class are also in a waiting mode, looking forward to their presents and all the family traditions surrounding the season.
As Luke tells the Christmas story, one part especially illustrates this prayerful posture. Two old saints, Simeon and Anna, have been waiting for a long time for the expected Messiah.
Luke tells us that Simeon was a righteous and devout man who was "waiting for the consolation of Israel" (v. 25). Anna is described as a woman who "never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying" (v. 37).
For hundreds of years, through invasion, destruction, rebellion, and wickedness, Israel had been waiting for God to fulfill his promise that a Messiah, a true son of David, would come to redeem Israel. These two elderly believers never gave up hope and never stopped praying on the basis of God's promise. In his grace, God made sure that they were among the first to recognize the messianic child.
Their spirit was one of patient waiting. This waiting was not like waiting in line to check out at the grocery store or mall. It was waiting in faith for the sure action of God, waiting to see God's promises fulfilled. And on this particular day the wait was over. Both of them, moved by the Holy Spirit, recognized that this was the child of promise.
In a profoundly touching action, Simeon took the child in his arms and offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, a prayer that has become the last prayer at the close of the day for countless Christians across the centuries. Simeon, in effect, says, "This is what I've been hoping and waiting for all my life long. God's salvation has finally arrived." Anna, a longtime widow who had dedicated her life to prayer, also saw the child and believed.
While his birth went unnoticed in the larger world, Jesus was welcomed by the disreputable shepherds and these obscure old people, pious in the best sense of the word, who had their expectant faith rewarded with sight.
Simeon and Anna exemplify this spirit of waiting that we all need in our prayers. God's plans do not move at our pace, and God's purposes ripen over time. That's why waiting often needs to be part of the discipline of prayer. It's easy for us to give up, or doubt God's goodness. But here and elsewhere the Bible urges us to keep at it. This is especially true when we are waiting for things that God has promised to us. We keep praying, not to pester God, but to remain committed to his promises. And God honors that kind of persistence. When the time is right, when God is ready to act, God's faithful prayer partners will be the first to know. "Partners" is an important word here, because the Bible teaches us that God doesn't just want to act, but to act through and with us, as his prayerful people.
Try to picture in your mind the scene as Simeon, and then Anna, each meet the Christ child in the crowded, bustling temple.
What are some situations in which your prayers have been held in the waiting mode? How have you handled it?
How is seeing your prayer life as “a partnership with God” different from how you view your prayer life now?
This story displays a deep connection between the old and the young. Many of your teens may think of faithful grandmothers and grandfathers as they hear the story. But as you teach, remember those who do not have the gift of older people in their lives, or those who have people in their family that have given up on that hope.
Some of the key concepts here are tough to get across at this age, but knowing the details is still important because your young teens will build on them as they grow in faith. These stories will continue to ripen in their minds and hearts.
Before everyone arrives, arrange the room so that three to four people can be contestants in “The Waiting Game.” Designate one chair for a “guesser” and set up a group of two to three chairs for “waiters.” Have everyone else play the role of the audience. Write the suggested waiting topics (listed below) on separate index cards.
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DWELL helps kids find their place in God's Big Story. Learn more about this popular and trusted children’s ministry curriculum.