Bible Reading (Luke 2:22-40) The presentation of Jesus at the temple
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons’. 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. 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 marvelled 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.’
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
How good are you at waiting? I’m not great at waiting, unless I can be doing while I am waiting. I like being occupied. As I have mentioned before I have taken up baking my own bread. There is a lot of waiting that goes on while you bake bread, so I make sure that I have other things to do while the bread rests and then proves. While I type this I have a loaf of wholemeal bread resting in the kitchen.
Not all waiting is easy. For the past two weeks my dad has been in hospital undergoing tests and resting while the doctors work incredibly hard to find out what is currently wrong with him. My parents are elderly and they have both had periods of time in hospital over the past few years, but this time it is different, because this time, due to the pandemic, we are unable to visit him. We cannot be with him, we cannot hear what the doctors say when they talk to him, we have to stay away and wait. We have not seen him since he was taken away in an ambulance two weeks ago. Our only form of communication with him is via his mobile phone, so each day we wait to hear from him to find out how he is. This waiting is not easy, I have been staying with my mum and I have been cleaning while we have been waiting. First it was the cooker and then the fridge and then I have worked my way around the house.
In the bible there are many examples of people who have waited. Today is Candlemas, the day on which we remember the presentation of Jesus at the temple as recounted by Luke. Two elderly people have key roles and both of them tell us something about waiting. Simeon had had a personal revelation, a promise from God, that he would see the Messiah before he died. Anna points to a promise of redemption made to the Israelite people. For one it was a personal promise from God, for the other it was a promise made to a group of people. Both were waiting and for both of them the waiting was over, God had kept his promise, as he always does. While waiting they had continued in their worship of God; Simeon is described as righteous and devout, and Anna worshipped in the temple night and day.
We live in a time of waiting. We wait for a vaccine roll out, we wait for the restrictions to lift and as Christians we wait for the second coming. As we wait, may we be like Simeon and Anna, righteous and devout, trusting in the promises he has made and worshipping God at all opportunities.
Prayer (David Adam)
Take me, Lord, from busy-ness
To the place of quietness
From the tumult without cease
Into your great unending peace.
Help me then, my Lord, to see
What I am and ought to be.