When Ordinary Lay People Wake Up


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body  to you, as a living sacrifice

Jesus, I belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. 

Luke 2:25–27 (NIV)

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.


We are still here in the temple. We have taken a position just side stage and we are watching—no beholding— the still unfolding scene of Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to consecrate him unto the Lord. 

Enter Simeon. We know he was righteous and devout. In other words, he looks to be a layperson who wasn’t phoning it in. Simeon was awake. Here’s something a bit more unusual for the day at hand. 

and the Holy Spirit was on him.

This is pre-day of Pentecost, which is to say the Holy Spirit was not, generally speaking, on the average righteous and devout person. Simeon was more than a little bit special in those days. Note this:

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Simeon heard from God. He had unusual access to the Spirit and he was given special revelation—kind of prophet-like access. Nevertheless, we see the explicit mention of the Holy Spirit now twice in two verses. Here’s the third:

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.

Simeon, ordinary lay person, was not in the temple at the time. He was out doing what ordinary people do; tending to their business on an ordinary day—when the Spirit prompted him in some fashion to go into the temple courts. I picture him walking fast across town, probably jay walking, slightly jogging a bit, to get there. He wasn’t told why; just go. Then this happened:

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
     you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
     and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:27–35)

Simeon didn’t make this up. There is a Bible word for this kind of speech: prophecy. Simeon prophesied, which is to say the Holy Spirit was giving him the words as he spoke them. Simeon was not a prophet. We will meet a prophet tomorrow. Her name is Anna. Simeon is just like about 80 percent of you who are reading or listening today—a lay person. 

What’s my point? Simeon is a pre-day of Pentecost prototype of what a post-day of Pentecost, everyday, average Christian lay person looks like. The Holy Spirit is now on and in us who follow Jesus and he is actively revealing things to anyone awake and paying attention. What was exceptional in the days of Simeon is now normative in these last days (the age of the Spirit in the era of Awakening). The Holy Spirit is always actively prompting us to go where Jesus is going and to say what Jesus is saying and to do what Jesus is doing. 

Simeon actually functions here like a priest in the way he took up the child, blessed God and the family, and spoke these words of prophecy. Isn’t that the point? It doesn’t take a priest or pastor to do the essential work of the kingdom. Last time I checked, the New Testament describes us as a kingdom of priests, one to another and unto the whole world. 

We love our pastors and priests and vocational ministry leaders, but let’s be clear: The church is a lay movement. Awakening will look like an army of Simeons, who are learning to hear from Jesus in the midst of an ordinary workday and move accordingly. When you dare to believe it, the sleeping giant will begin to awaken and arise. 

Let’s continue the sidebar with Simeon today. See you bright and early tomorrow where our next witness will be an eighty-something-year-old prophet who happened to be a widow. 


Our Father, we keep praying that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know you better, that I might become truly humble; which is to awaken to the person you imagined when you fashioned my inmost being and that I might rise up into the real life for which you created me. Forgetting what is past, I press on toward this high calling. But for today, let me find myself next to Simeon as he hears from the Spirit on an otherwise busy day and runs in response to pick up that baby and shower him with prophecy.  I want to live a consecrated life of simple obedience and extravagant love. Show me the next small thing. Come Holy Spirit, I am ready to move with you. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.


How are you challenged by Simeon? Are you ready to stop prefacing your thoughts and impressions with the words, I’m just a lay person? How might you take the Spirit more seriously and thereby take yourself and your own work and calling more seriously? 


The hymn today is “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” hymn 217  (verse 2) in our Seedbed hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.   

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. JD, again, thanks for the reminder that it’s not our flesh which determines our effectiveness within the body of Christ, neither lay or clergy, it’s the power of the in-dwelling Spirit of Christ. Our role is to be submissive to the Spirit’s prompting.

  2. The Holy Spirit is urging me to be an instrument in starting a worship group of believers who have been disappointed by the disaffiliation of our congregation. Please pray that great things will be accomplished by the working of the spirit in my life. Like Simeon, I am a layperson. There are no other congregations of our denomination nearby.

  3. I don’t believe that there are any lay people. The Bible says that Christ-followers are “kings and priests.” The Protestant Reformers taught the priesthood of the believer (however, they weren’t very good at actually implementing it since they all established a clergy/laity system that continues till this day).

    I’ve discovered that God’s ordinary people are eloquent and extraordinary! I was saved during the Jesus Movement and saw hundreds of ordinary people proclaiming and demonstrating the presence and power of the living Jesus. I was a team member on many “Lay Witness” Missions” and heard and saw everyday Christians spark church awakening after church awaking by simply sharing their salvation testimony.

    I’ve heard too many ordinary Christians to count open their heart to God and passionately pray in a way that moved me in my innermost being. I’ve seen far more everyday Christ-followers operate in the gifts of the Spirit than I have clergy.

    As a new Christian God gave me a vision of everyday Christians meeting together to all directly listen to and obey the risen Jesus. As the Jesus Movement began to die down, I moved around the country looking for a place that allowed “lay people” to speak out in church as prompted by God’s Spirit, but never found such a thing. Finally, God led my wife and me to start such gatherings.

    For a year we met with two other couples in our home and followed the biblical pattern of 1 Corinthians 14:26. It was awesome! Then we found and joined a church that had an open mic and let anyone present speak. We loved that, but after a year they closed down the open mic.

    After that we started a church in the old black neighborhood of Franklin, Tennessee. There anyone could share as led by God’ Spirit. What an awesome time of seeing God connect people heart-to-heart interracially. We even joined a black denomination.

    Eventually The Salvation Army supernaturally opened a door for us and invited us to start a “nontraditional church” in an empty “corps” (church) building in inner city Nashville. That lasted for 10 years and in all that time we never had a sermon. However, we did experience the glory of God flowing out of ordinary people as they testified, shared Scriptures, gave short teaching, prayed, shared prayer request, confessed sins, flowed in spiritual gifts, started songs, and praised God. This was all strongly supported by many leaders in The Salvation Army. Finally, a new leader was put over Nashville who ordered us to follow the traditional sermon format. The pressure was so great we felt we had no choice but to resign.

    Shortly after that God supernaturally opened a door for my wife and me and another couple to lead a ministry on the campus of a local auto/diesel college. We sit with a group of young men and encourage them to talk and share their heart and God shows up!

    God recently led us to step out of the college ministry and last week was our last meeting. Now we are eagerly anticipating God’s next open doors. Like Simeon and Anna, as ordinary people we’re ready to speak up for Jesus and to encourage and empower other everyday Christians to do likewise.

    1. Steve, thank you for your testimony. My wife and I host a Sunday afternoon gathering at our place. It’s attended by folks who are either frustrated by the institutional churches business as usual attitude or others who remain active in a local congregation, but are looking for fellowship at a deeper level than can be experienced at a conventional Sunday morning service. It includes Christians from various denominational backgrounds. I personally believe that God is drawing together true believers together despite former barriers to form a faithful remnant to serve on the front lines. As a “layman”, I also serve at a local nursing home as a volunteer chaplain, facilitating a Sunday morning worship gathering and mid-week Bible study. I’ll be praying that God leads y’all into your next ministry soon.

  4. Thanks, Saint Bob! I really appreciate your prayers & also your comments on WUC.You’re so much more than a “layman.” The Bible says that Christ-followers are “called to be saints.”

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