The Presentation (Transferred)

February 3, 2019

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

Today we remember the Feast of the Presentation.  The gospel lesson that I read just a moment ago recounts for us the day that Mary and Joseph fulfilled the law and took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem.  During the course of this reading we encountered two people who had been waiting for the Messiah – Simeon and Anna.  I would like to focus our attention on them this morning.

First there is Simeon.  The lesson describes Simeon in this way:

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.   And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.”

I wonder about when the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ?  How long did Simeon wait?  Did he know where this would happen?  Is that why he was at the temple?  Or did he happen to be at the temple that day and then – all of a sudden – something that he had been waiting for was fulfilled?

The scripture does not tell us when this was revealed to Simeon.  Did he know this from childhood?  Did he know only a few weeks or days before it happened? 

I guess that this comes from a person frustration which I have sometimes.  Take, for instance, the sense of call that I had to the ordained life.  I felt that call when I was young.  I had a better idea about it when I was 15.  But I was ordained when I was 30!  At that point I had spent half of my life in pursuit of the fulfillment of what I thought was God’s will for my life.

Has the same thing happened to you, or is this something that is unique to my life experience?  Have you had to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise to you?  I have a dear friend who spent many years in waiting.

But it is God’s time!  That is the frustrating thing.  You see – at the point in which I was ordained, fifteen years was half of my life.  But fifteen years for God is less than a blink of an eye.

I just wonder what this encounter with Jesus was like for Simeon.  How long did he wait?  Did he know that it would be in the Temple, or did the fulfillment of this promise by God take him by surprise?

And then there is Anna.  Anna is described quite differently than Simeon:

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phan'u-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.   And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Anna was not given the same promise as Simeon.  Anna simply was looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.  She was not told anything by the Holy Spirit.  She was a holy woman – a prophetess.  She spent her days in the temple, praying, fasting, and worshiping.  She had no expectation.  But she had a hope.

And on that day, she found her hope fulfilled in this little baby brought to the Temple by His parents – who were simply there to fulfill the law.

Have you had times in which you were like Anna?  Have you simply been leading the kind of life that you think that the Lord calls us all to live, and then the Lord surprises you?  I think that we would all hope for those times.

And what do we hope for?  What are we looking for?  Peace?  Reconciliation?  Love?

I think that we may often find ourselves to be like Anna and Simeon.  Perhaps we have had something we have been waiting for for a long time.  Perhaps we are simply living our lives.  But we may be surprised by God!  Surprised in the most unexpected and wonderful ways!

I hope that we will all spend time in the temple of the Lord.  And when we are there – sometimes frustrated, sometimes in expectation, sometimes for no reason at all – I hope that we will be surprised by God.  AMEN.