Today’s Celebration: Presentation of the Lord
Malachi 3:1-4 – Ps 24 – Hebrews 2:14-18 – Luke 2:22-40
There are many levels of understanding to this celebration so it does us good to flesh it all out. Today’s feast might be thought of as “A Temple Celebration,” but most of us don’t have the same sense of “temple presence” as the Jews in the time of Jesus had. Mary and Joseph, fullfill their Jewish proscriptions by bringing the child – a gift of God who is God – to be blessed by these old, faithful Jews, Simeon and Anna. The feast is called “The Presentation of the Lord” – but it is essentially the Jewish ritual of the “purification of Mary” which would happen 40 days after a birth. It also has the name, “Candlemass Day” in reference to Jesus being the “Light of the World.” In the old traditions all the candles to be used in the church in the coming year were blessed on this day. So we look for “a bottom line” in order to have a deeper understanding of what all this means. All “ritual” has the singular purpose of drawing us deeper into the reality of God’s presence in our life and our world – where we are at in this present moment. It doesn’t do us any good to just look back at this event if it doesn’t have some real meaning in our own lives. Simeon says, “Now you may dismiss your servant since my own eyes have seen your salvation.” In the Gospels, Jesus heals many people of blindness but we don’t just look at them but also see our own need to be healed of a kind of blindness that holds us back from realizing the full presence of God in our lives.
Even as I sit here in the darkness of our little chapel early in the morning hours before the first light of day breaks I am not really in darkness. I have the light of a couple of candles that remind me that I am never totally alone and that in some sense I am the “Temple of the Holy Spirit” and the “light of Jesus” shines brightly all around me. And in the same way that Joseph and Mary presented Jesus I present myself at the start of this day and ask for His light to shine brightly in my life. This is a “ritual” that is important and a kind of “morning offering” that gives some purpose to the day that will follow. May each of us “present ourselves” to this God who saves and enlightens us on our day to day journey. Amen!