Presentation of Christ in the Temple – Sermon 222

Candlemass

10am Holy Communion

3rd February 2013

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

It might not seem like 40 days since Christmas –

 

But as our last hymn reminds us –

 

Today – we take a last look at the stories and joy connected with Jesus’ birth – and turn towards Lent and Holy Week – when 33 years later Jesus would offer Himself as a sacrifice for us – on the cross –

 

Point 1        The Naming of Jesus

 

The presentation of Christ in the Temple –

 

When Mary & Joseph take their first born to Jerusalem to carry out the requirements of the Law of Moses – Luke is the only Gospel writer to mention it –

 

It was also the time – for Mary to bring her purification offering – which was the custom for women who had recently given birth – two young pigeons or doves – the sacrifice offered by the poor

 

And as this very ordinary looking couple – entered the Temple – carrying their infant – others passed them by – but two people who were also in that Temple – saw who they were carrying in their arms and realized – He was the fulfillment of a promise made by God – and of a dream they had held in their hearts all their lives –

 

They recognized the child as the promised Messiah – the true ruler of the World –

 

The coming of Jesus – is foretold in our OT reading from Malachi – where we are told – He will have a major impact on all our lives –and will cleanse us from inside:

 

‘Who can endure the day of His coming? – Who can stand when He appears? He is like a refiners fire and like a fullers soap’

 

‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the descendants of Levi’ – and ‘refine them like gold and silver’ – ‘until they present offerings in righteousness’ –

 

Silver is refined by holding it in the hottest part of the flame – The silversmith – knows when it’s fully refined – because he can see his face in it –

 

Jesus will be the means by which we will be changed for God – He will work tirelessly – to refine us until – our impurities have been removed – and He can see His image – in our hearts –

 

Point 2        Simeon and Anna

 

Simeon held Jesus – in his arms and realized that – his waiting was over – his watch had been completed –

 

His short speech – known as the ‘Nunc Dimitus’ –– alludes to some well known passages in Isaiah – and announces the mission and ministry of Jesus – to the world –

 

Anna – a widow of 84 years – who never left the Temple – serving it night and day with fasting and prayers – spoke about the child to all who were looking for the coming of the Messiah –

 

The wisdom and experience of the elderly was highly valued – and the prophecies and words of praise from these two people would have added to the signs and words which accompanied Jesus’ birth – and helped Mary and Joseph prepare for what lies ahead –

 

Simeon is the first in Luke’s Gospel to see God’s salvation going out beyond the Jews – to the Gentiles – Glory will come to Israel – not as the receiver – but as the bearer of the promise and the nation from which the true ruler of God’s kingdom will emerge

 

Simeon’s words to Mary are also the first hint in this gospel – of the suffering to come –

 

Jesus is the great divide – many will stand or fall because of Him – He will divide nations – families – people – the division He brings – is between those who come to recognize Him – through the power of the Holy Spirit – and those who refuse Him –

 

Mary will be pierced to the heart – she will look on in dismay – as her Son is rejected by the very city – to which He offers the way of peace – by the very people He had come to rescue –

 

God’s chosen redeemer – will deal with the suffering in the world – by sharing it Himself – He will be mocked – whipped – and pierced for our transgressions – He will die on the cross – for our sins – and then tell us that – if we believe in what He has done and follow His ways – we will be made right with God –

 

The sacrifice that Mary and Joseph gave to the priests – was two young pigeons or doves – but the sacrifice they actually brought to the Temple was – the Lamb of God – who came to take away the sins of the world –

 

Point 3        Jesus and us

 

Jesus is God’s representative – He is also family with us – He is part of us – and we are part of Him – He came to share flesh and blood with us – He came to show us the way to God’s new world –

 

The story portrayed by Luke is one of an encounter that involves all ages – a young man and woman – surprised to have their child so soon – going to the Temple to do what is required by law – and the child – the focus of new life – soon to become strong and wise – we also have the older man and woman – worshipping God – and praying for the salvation of the people –

 

Simeon and Anna are a picture of the church – receiving Jesus – thanking God – and witnessing to the world –

 

Faithful servants – telling of what God is doing – with compassion and openness – content to be used by God – knowing that the old will pass away – because the future has come – and it will be safe in Jesus’ hands –

 

Like Simeon and Anna – we too need to keep on trusting – confident that God is at work – and in the fullness of time – that His will – will be done – His promises fulfilled – They had the courage to stay true – to their faith – despite outward appearances or events – and so must we –

 

If we trust Jesus Christ – as our Saviour – and for our salvation – then we have done the one thing – that we need to do above all else –

 

This story – reminds us too – that we are not here by accident – that God has a purpose for each one of our lives –

 

For some it will be active – in the public eye – preaching – or taking God’s love to meet the practical needs of others – for others it will be quiet – away from the public eye – praying prayerfully to God – to act in fulfillment of His promises – For most – it will be a mixture of the two –

 

Mary and Joseph needed Simeon and Anna at that moment –  and they needed them – this was a brief encounter – that had been planned by God years earlier –

 

Simeon and Anna and the Holy Family – were willing to wait for God’s timing – and so must we – if we don’t we will miss the good things – God has in store for us –

 

ending

 

No matter how time passes – or what age we are – the story of Jesus from His birth – to the empty tomb and beyond – is one that can become – part of our story

 

Jesus is our great example to follow – there is nothing we face – that He has not already been through –

 

He has come to change us into His likeness – to help us be faithful to God – and to play our part in God’s plan –

 

And like Simeon and Anna and the Holy Family –

be ready to take hold and tell of the Christ child when He comes –

 

Prayer:

 

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

 

AMEN