Key Text

Luke 2:22-33

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary went up to the Jerusalem temple to undergo the purification ritual required by the religious law. They took Jesus with them, and offered the sacrifice which the law of the Lord required of new parents. In their case, because they could not afford much, the required sacrifice was “a pair of young pigeons or doves.” While they were at the Temple, they took the opportunity to make the ritual presentation of the baby to the Lord. This too was in line with God’s law, for it specified that “every firstborn son will be marked out as being dedicated to the Lord.”

A man named Simeon came into the temple that day at the prompting of the Spirit. Simeon was a man of deep integrity and prayer; a man clearly under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He was living in eager anticipation of the day when the sorrows of God’s people would be brought to an end, and the Holy Spirit had let him know that he would see the Lord’s chosen Messiah in person before he died. So when Joseph and Mary brought the child into the temple to do all the customary things that the law required, Simeon was there. He took Jesus in his arms, and began to praise God in prayer, saying:
“At last you are letting your servant go in peace, Lord,
just as you promised you would;
for now, with my own eyes,
I have seen your rescue operation underway.
I have seen the launch of the life you have been preparing
in the midst of the world and its peoples;
I have seen the light which will make you known to the nations,
the light which will have your people basking in glory.”
The parents couldn’t believe their ears when they heard what was being said about their child.

cited from Laughing Bird

 

Image of the week

January 31, 2005

Presentation in the Temple
Gerbrand van den EECKHOUT
(b. 1621, Amsterdam, d. 1674, Amsterdam)

1671
Oil on wood, 59 x 48,5 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

 

original link

For last week's image (24 January, 2005), click here.

 

Present Context

For Reflection

To look into the eyes of an infant is to wonder who this child will become. Full of potential, of promise, an embodiment of hope.

As adults, we pause to ask the question: who are we? Who have we become? who are we becoming? Our sense of identity and purpose are intricately interwoven.

Mary and Joseph were in awe at the pronouncements of Simeon at the time of Jesus' presentation. "Who is this child?"

Many years later, Jesus would turn to his disciples and ask "Who do people say that I am?"

When Pilate asked Jesus "Are you the king?" Jesus responded by saying "Those are your words."

Who are we? Who am I? Who are you?

How do we gain a sense of identity that is not forever contingent... contingent on relationships, or on work roles, or achievements, past or present? without fully considering the implications.

The New Testament continually defines us in relationship to God the unchanging one.

To truly know who we are is a wonderful gift and source of stability.

We pray:
Who am I? Teach me, Lord God, to know who I truly am, to be comfortable in my own uniqueness in relationship to others. Teach me who I am in relationship to you, that I may know my place in the cosmos.

And help me not to cheapen it with easy words, but to give expression to it in every facet of my life, that I may be truly me.

Amen.