Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

This sermon was given by our Reader Christine on Sunday 3 February 2019.

How many of us will admit to watching Dr. Who either the earlier episodes or the more recent ones and enjoying the adventures he and I now have to say she gets up to?

I think following the Gospel readings week by week, it would sometimes be easy to imagine ourselves as being in one of the episodes.  Last week we heard about Jesus as a grown man standing up in front of a congregation and reading from the scroll in the Temple.  He finished with the acclamation, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

However, in today’s reading we go back in time to Jesus still 02unnamed

being a baby in his mother’s arm and being presented to God in the Temple and with Simeon ending his praise to God saying,  “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Jesus was presented to Simeon in a very simple way with Mary and Joseph bringing two doves as was tradition.

We have no idea how many people were there when Jesus was presented, but we do know there were others around because Anna began to praise God and speak about the child to all who would listen, whether they were inside the Temple or outside we don’t know.

Simeon on the other hand spoke directly to Mary and Joseph and Mary must have felt a shiver go down her spine at Simeon’s last words, “and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Simeon we know was a man of great faith and patience.  He had probably held many babies in his arms to present them to God and to bless their families, but today was different.  We don’t know how or why Simeon knew, but as he held this child in his arm he knew he was seeing God’s salvation, the Messiah.

Simeon’s patience had paid off; here at last was the Messiah that God had promised he would see.  It was all there in the wrinkled little face of this tiny, vulnerable baby staring up at him.  The great joy Simeon knew at that moment was probably overwhelming he had been waiting patiently for this very day.

Patience we are told is a virtue, but I honestly think it is a gift from God, our Creator.

We live in a society these days where everything is on demand and some people have very little patience to wait.  Even with all the time saving technology, we seem to lack the time we need to do everything we want.

Children we know sometimes struggle with patience I know, and it can be hard for them to understand that sometimes we just have to wait.

My youngest grandchild, now 3 is beginning to learn the art of patience.  She knows for instance that if she wants something in a shop, she first has to put it in the basket/trolley and then take it to the cashier before she can have it.  (I know it has taken a lot of hard work from her Mum).

All of us at sometime need to have patience.  A couple planning a wedding and preparing for the big day; a family waiting for the birth of a child; pupils waiting for the results of exams; a job offer and a gardener/farmer waiting for his plants or crops to grow.  They had prepared the land; planted the seeds; kept the weeds at bay, but it is only our Creator God who can make everything grow when he is ready.

Yes, I really do think patience is a gift, but not just patience, faithfulness.  To have faith and know that God will always be there for us.

Mary had a deep faith.  She accepted God’s call as did Joseph, even though they knew it would be a struggle.  The Shepherds heard and obeyed the Angels.  The Wisemen had the faith to follow a star and listen to the warning given to them in a dream.  Simeon had the faith to believe he would see God’s salvation, the Messiah.

God has blessed us in many ways and often when we look back over troubled times and have felt far away from God we find that we have been strengthened by our faith in him for our continuing journey.

As a young girl I would often go to the Sunday evening services and strange though it may be one of the highlights for me was to sing the psalms, Magnificat and especially the Nunc Dimittis.  At that time I really didn’t understand what the words meant, they just spoke to me through the music, but they were always there.  Obviously as I got older, I understood the meanings of the words and both the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis began to mean more to me.

Simeon’s words say everything, the patience he had and the faith he kept.  I’ve waited ages for this day God, at last I can rest knowing I’ve seen your Messiah.  The one you are sending to your people to save them.  I know he’s going to be a light to everyone.

There in that Temple over 2,000 years ago stood Simeon, Anna, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  The adults in faith thanking God for the birth of Jesus and praising Him for what he had given to the world.  Not just a baby, but a light to all people, the Messiah, the answer to a world waiting in patience.

Today we celebrate Jesus’ presentation to God in the Temple a day also known as Candlemas.  A day when all the candles to be used in the Church for the coming year are blessed.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what’s under the cover and if one of the children would like to come forward.

01unnamedHere in this simple ornament, we have four people with a light in middle.  It could be Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna; it could be you and me with our families; it could be this church or all the churches in the diocese.  It doesn’t matter who they are because at the centre is the light of Jesus which guides us and gives us faith and God gives us the gift of patience to wait for him to seek his glory.

“May our waiting be a time of purpose and our lives a testimony of faith like Simeon.” (Where two or three are Gathered – Lezley J. Stewart).

Amen.

Christine Hardy, Reader

@ St. Margaret’s Holyrood & St. George’s Simister.


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