the sign

Sunday in church we talked about the story of Simeon and Anna. We've been doing a survey of the Old Testament and now are shifting to the New. There was some discussion of Simeon as a prophetic type, "looking for a sign" from God, and other people of that type some of us had met. I mentioned that Simeon had seen his sign in Jesus: "Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word; for my eyes have seen thy salvation..." He even described Jesus as a "sign":

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against... that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."(Lk 2.34-35)
And so, I asked, wasn't Jesus' disciples' experience (and also ours) fundamentally different from the prophets, since they weren't looking for periodic signs from God but were living in the presence of the sign, Emmanuel, "God with us"?

There wasn't much response to that question. Perhaps it wasn't understood. I do think Jesus offered us an experience of God that is better than the prophets (see Mt 11.7-11, for example). Our usual experience, though, seems to one of "looking for a sign." Hoping to see some evidence of God's presence in our world, periodic reminders and boosts for our faith, like when the prophets received another word from God. I recognize I have been this way myself at times. We assume it's the most we can hope for.

Yet Jesus promised that he would be with us always. The sign of God, the presence of God, with us always. He even said he wanted to share everything of God, "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (Jn 15.15) If this is not our experience, it is not because God is not there or he is withholding himself from us. More likely, we are withholding ourselves from God, more comfortable to see an occasional glimpse than live the kind of life Jesus lived.