Scripture for this Sunday: Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 24:7-10; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40
The Presentation Of Christ In The Temple.
Some of us carry quite a lot of emotional and spiritual baggage. Letting go of some of the negative things can be liberating. A grudge, or resentment, is often heavier for the one carrying it than the one who caused it.
Nevertheless, there are some burdens worth carrying: the ones with our hopes and dreams. In the account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple, there are three people who carry such burdens.
Anna and Simeon are two people who encounter the infant Jesus and are drawn to see the prospective fulfilment of hope for Israel – although Simeon’s celebration is tempered by a warning of sadness.
Mary, similarly, although much younger, is building hopes and dreams for this remarkable child of hers. All three had to defer graciously to God’s timing: it is doubtful that Anna and Simeon lived another 30 years; and Mary had to endure the pain of Good Friday before Easter’s vindication.
These three remind us that God can ultimately fulfil hopes and dreams, can illuminate the dark places of our lives, and will hold us when a sword pierces our hearts.
This is part of the transforming nature of God in human life, a hallmark of the presence of Jesus in the world. We are offered deeper insights into the practice of our faith: ceremonial worship can offer rich spiritual experience and nourishment.
Jesus was presented in the Temple, dedicated, and designated as holy before God: but this becomes about a presentation on behalf of all of us, dedicated for service. And whereas Mary went to the temple to be purified, the child whom she bore offers a channel of purification for all, even in the darkest, most difficult places of our lives.
This is the real meaning of incarnation: that God is with us, in a demonstrably, tangible way, that can be seen, heard and touched. We are included in and touched by the transforming light of Christ in the world.
All this is captured in a very ordinary event: a small family, offering sacrifice in the temple for the birth of a child. But God transforms what seems ordinary into something extraordinary.
So it may be for us and the hopes and dreams that we carry.