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Nunc dimittis

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” -Simeon in Luke 2:29

Do you know why you do what you do?

Eric Liddel, a missionary and winner of the Men’s 400 metres at the 1924 Summer Olympics held in Paris, said in Chariots of Fire, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Harold Abraham, the winner of 100m sprint at the same Olympic said, “I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my existence.” John Coltrane, one of the most significant tenor saxophonists in jazz history, found his reason of being as he states, “[d]uring the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.” He later wrote “A Love Supreme” to uplift and inspire people to live more meaningful lives. One night, after a sublime performance of the song, his drummer heard him said two words as he walked offstage: “Nunc dimittis,” which is the first two words of the Song of Simeon in Latin.

“Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine” (“Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord.”)

The Bible opens with God working six days a week and resting the seventh. He puts Adam right to work after creating Him. Adam was made a steward of the land, so are we. Perhaps the “perfect world” of many of us is a world of no work, or one in which everyone is retired. But in the truly perfect world of Eden, work was there - even when there was enough food (for at least two). Work gives us meaning and purpose, when we know why we work, and who we work for. How sad it is when we spend our days counting down to retirement! How disconnected we are to the original intention of work, which is stewardship and service - to use our giftedness to serve God and others, and fulfill our purpose.

Pastor Tim Keller from Redeemer Church says, “When we do work,we need to look to ourselves (see what our gifts are),We need to look out to others (see the needs of others), and we need to look up to God (see His purpose).”

What is your “Nunc dimittis”?

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