Thursday, February 2, 2012

Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord - 2012

Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord
Thursday after Epiphany 4
February 2, 2012

The Lord be with you

Thirty-two days after Jesus’ circumcision and seventy weeks after the announcement of John’s birth to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel, the Lord comes to His temple to fulfill the Torah (Luke 2:22-38). The days are indeed fulfilled with the presentation. Jesus’ parents keep the Torah and fulfill it by bringing Jesus to His true home. Also, Jesus’ parents offer the alternative sacrifice of two turtledoves or two pigeons. Leviticus 12:8 allows this instead of a lamb, since not everyone could afford a lamb (showing the poverty and humility of Joseph and Mary). Yet no lamb was necessary because already here at forty days old, Jesus is the Lamb brought to His temple for sacrifice. Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis is a beautiful example of the immediate response to this inauguration of God’s consolation and redemption in the Christ Child:
    “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
    for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
    a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
Simeon, representing the expectant nation of Israel, at last, after years of patient and faithful waiting, held the infant Savior in his arms. The consolation of the nations, the light to the Gentiles, had come. The child was being presented to God by his parents, but in this child God was coming to meet his people, so that he who is the light of the world might make his people lamps shining in a dark world that others might see the right path. Simeon’s song has been sung by countless generations of believers ever since.

But Scripture does not stop with simply a heartwarming story. The Light casts a shadow. Simeon spoke of this as well.
    And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)
The long awaited Messiah will achieve no easy triumph. He will be the center of storm and controversy that will reveal the secret disposition of many hearts and will bring piercing grief to his own mother. The Messiah, who comes to lead Israel to glory, must go by the path of suffering, and his people must go with him along that same path.

Prayer: Almighty and ever-living God, as Your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, grant that we may be presented to You with pure and clean hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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