Friday, 2 February 2018

Reflections of a promise

Today is the 2nd February, the feast of Candlemas, or the Presentation at the Temple, and, at least in some traditions, the very end of the Christmas season.

The text of the presentation of Jesus at the temple is, I think, rich in story and imagery; and it sets the tone for so much of that which is to come. Here Jesus is deeply rooted in the history of this chosen people straining to understand the mystery of God, and here too He is identified among the poor, those who could only afford the humble offering of birds. Most of these characters make but a fleeting appearance, encounters one assumes the child Jesus will not even recall, but into whose words and actions are placed the foretelling of the joy and the sorrow of all that is ahead.

Above all, for me (this year at least) the presentation is about promise. It is about promises fulfilled in unexpected ways, and promises proffered from places of prayer. It is about a God who makes promises, and who keeps them, but whose faithfulness reveals itself in surprising, unexpected and sometime uncomfortable ways ... it is about a God I can believe in.

Luke 2: 22-24
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.”

A child of God
Given to God
For the price of a pigeon
The payment of the poor
Offer, purity, 
and promise

Luke 2: 25-28
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,

A man of God
Listening to God
Revelation of the future
Cradled in elderly arms
Patience, praise, 
and promise

Luke 2: 29-32
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.”

A message of God
Sung back to God
Fulfillment of the past
Possibility for the future
Light, glory, 
and promise

Luke 2: 33-35
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.”

A blessing of God
Eyes turned to God
An offer of inclusion
The disturbance of accepted normality
Possibility, pain, 
and promise

Luke 2: 36-38
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 worshiped 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.

A prophet of God
Dedication to God
From faithful, prayerful presence
Eyes rest on the hope of redemption
Gratitude, prophesy, 
and promise.

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