February 2, 2020
Feast of the Presentation of Jesus
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
Something to Do
Spend some time with your elders
Simeon and Anna remind us of the wisdom and faithfulness of our elders, people whose faith has been tested by the living of it. Make time this week to visit with the elders in your life – whether in person or from a distance; whether blood family or church family or chosen family.
and a sword will pierce you own soul, too
This is a strange sort of blessing, offered by Simeon to Mary. There is, however, a great truth in it – the suffering of those we love wounds us, too. When I, like Mary, was a new mother, I was deeply aware that I had just doubled (at least) my chances of suffering.
Consider who in your life bears this risk because of their love for you. What can you do this week to treasure that love?
Something to Wonder
Waiting for Epiphany
Today’s story reminds us that, sometimes, God takes a long time to show up. Anna and Simeon had waited their whole lives, giving themselves over to a life of prayer and watching. I imagine they had days when it seemed a useless way to spend their time – but nonetheless they persisted.
When has God made you wait? Was it worth it? What did you gain from the waiting? What did the waiting cost you?
My eyes have seen your salvation
It is always good to remember that the Greek word we translate as “salvation” can also be translated as “healing” or “wholeness”, which adds an important nuance to the idea of rescue.
Simeon saw God’s salvation, prepared for all peoples, in the infant Jesus.
Where have you seen God’s salvation?
In what ways has God saved you?
What is the salvation you are looking for?
Something to Learn
The Feast of the Presentation
The Feast of the Presentation (sometimes known as the Feast of the Purification of Mary; sometimes as Candlemas) is an ancient feast of the church, dating from at least the 4th century. As with many such ancient practices, it has a storied history and its deepest roots are not fully known. Below are a few quick bites of information about the celebration:
From the Church of England‘s materials for the season of Epiphany
And, of course, from Wikipedia.
From cradle to cross: a Candlemas sermon
Just because I’m not preaching this week doesn’t mean you can’t hear a Candlemas sermon! This sermon was recorded in February 2016 at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal (text included).
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.