New beginnings fill our lives—some long-awaited, some carefully
planned. Others emerge from the routine of ordinary
life like in today’s reading.
A look at the calendar tells Mary and Joseph that the time
has come for Mary’s purification and for Jesus’ presentation.
Mary and Joseph follow the requirements of Mosaic law by
journeying to Jerusalem and offering the prescribed sacrifice.
This event is not exceptional. Other firstborn males have been
designated as holy in this customary fashion.
But something extraordinary flows from this widely practiced
ritual. Simeon and Anna testify to the birth of something
new. They witness a departure from the usual presentation of a
child. Simeon and Anna see a boy unlike other boys; they see
a light for revelation, a redeemer. Two lessons follow from this
story of good news. The first: Simeon’s faithfulness provides
the extraordinary moment of revelation. That signals a call to
us to keep going to the sanctuary, to continue praying, to keep
our eyes and ears open for divine moments of revelation. I have
discovered that they usually come as a surprise even though I
have been praying for them for years.
The second lesson: Beyond seeking the usual prescribed
path and expecting nothing new, the extraordinary comes from
the ordinary. We remember to keep praying for fresh insights,
new understandings and a deepening of our faith. Simeon’s
song of praise that now he can depart in peace beautifully reassures
those of us seeking new life in the old temples. It reminds
us to keep searching for God’s revelations and the truth that
dwells in us.
Gracious and loving God, open us to your renewing work in our lives. May we relax the clenched fists that hold tight to what is known and comfortable and open welcoming arms to new revelations that come at unexpected times. Amen.
Ecstasy over the Christmas miracle binds these passages together with unrestrained joy over what God has done and over who God is. The God whom these texts celebrate is a God who reigns in strength and whose activity on behalf of humankind is timelessly ancient. As worshipers, we join in rejoicing over the coming of the messenger “who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isa. 52:7). We also celebrate “the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth . . . with righteousness, and . . . equity” (Ps. 98:9). Then a note of immediacy is struck by the focus on what God has done just now, in these “last days,” in which “he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb. 1:2). The One who was present at Creation, the eternal Word, “became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).
• Read Isaiah 52:7-10. Where do you see signs of God’s peace amid the world’s brokenness?
• Read Psalm 98. Where in your life has a new beginning come most startlingly from an ending?
• Read Hebrews 1:1-12. When you next celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion, re ect on how God has brought healing to your life.
• Read Luke 2:22-40. When have you been surprised by an inbreaking of God’s extraordinary love in an ordinary moment?
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