Sunday, January 29, 2012

Presentation 2012

Jesus is the Light of the World – and today, the feast of the Presentation, we celebrate him – the light of the nations, and the glory of his people. 

This is the last feast in the series that anticipates and celebrates the birth of the Christ Child, from the joyful expectations of Advent, the feast of the Nativity – Christmas itself, to the feast of the Holy Name eight days later on January 1st, the visit of the Magi who proclaim him King of the Jews and present him with gifts, to this feast 40 days after Christmas, when we remember that Mary and Joseph presented him, the first-born son, in the Temple.

Jesus is the Light of the World – and Simeon the righteous and Anna the prophetess are there in the Temple to tell them so.

He is the One all Israel has been waiting for; indeed, the whole world has been waiting for him.

For he is the hope of the world, the One who brings light that is life to all people.

As the Gospel of John says in its very first chapter,

What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

Those were dark days for Israel and any glimmer of hope would have been welcome. But here was more than a glimmer – here was the source of light and life itself come into the world.

The Word that was from the beginning became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory.

This is the glory for his people. This is the light for the world. This One who came into the world: Jesus, the Christ Child whom Simeon embraced:

At last! At last! Now I can go in peace, knowing God is fulfilling the promise:

The promise of Salvation – healing, wholeness, help and hope, and liberation from the bondage of sin, the ultimate oppressor;

The promise of Redemption – no longer will God’s people live under the unbearable burden of sin;

The promise of Atonement – for God has reconciled all to himself in this One, this promised Child.

The child of the promise –

whom you have prepared for all the world to see, a light to enlighten the nations,  and the glory – the shining forth in praise of God – of the people of God.

(The Lord is our light; whom then shall we fear?)

This child, Simeon goes on to say, will see the rise of some and the fall of others – and those who will fall will not be happy. Even in this moment of joy there is a warning:

Jesus is Redeemer and he is Judge.

He is Judge – that is, the bringer of Justice – the one who establishes righteousness in the realm of God – and

the road to justice,
the road to freedom,
the road to righteousness and peace,

is not an easy road –

it will lead to the Cross,

and beyond, beyond Death, to victory even over Death,

to the final reconciliation of all people to God in his Son.

Through Christ, through this Child, the world will be judged and made right in the reckoning, and it will be led to freedom.

Anna prophesies that the redemption of Jerusalem, the renewal of God’s city, will come through this same infant.

40 days old! and already a legend – no, more than that: a living promise, a word of fulfillment.

The night is past and day is dawning – the new day illuminated by the light of Christ.

He is the light of the world, and he calls us, come and follow me!

Come and follow me! How then shall we follow him?

How shall we bear forth that light that is life?

How shall we let the light of Christ shine forth  
from us, from this place, this gathering of God’s people?

How shall we let the light shine – the light for the world?

We begin to look at what Jesus said of his own ministry, his own work in the world, that he calls us to follow him in doing.

As he says:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to those who are blind, to set free the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s jubilee.

And this Scripture, from the book of the prophet Isaiah, began to be fulfilled even in the reading.

The day of the Lord is dawning. The light has come into the world. How shall we show him shining –

-      in our lives?
-      in our hearts?
-      in our ways, of doing, and being, in the world?

That is the challenge that we face today.

Let us be carriers of his light.
Let us each take up that illumination that lasts forever,          and is not quenched,
that the light of Christ may shine forth from us,
         for all people.

Feast of the Presentation 


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