The Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple – HD (White)

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Readings   MALACHI 3:1-4; PSALM 84; HEBREWS 2:14-18; LUKE 2:22-40 

Collect        Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for you have sent us your salvation. Inspire us by your Holy Spirit to recognize him who is the glory of Israel and the light for all nations, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Alt 1            God of love, you gave your Son to be a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. With Simeon and Anna and all who hail redemption’s happy dawn, may we sing your praise and proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh. Amen.

Propers Working Group (2016)

Alt 2           God of Anna and Simeon, whose law makes known the gift of life, whose love exposes our hardness of heart: by your Spirit, may we receive your faithful word and know your reconciling presence offered for all the world; through Jesus Christ, the Light and Glory of God. Amen.

Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) alt.

Prayer over the Gifts

Almighty God, accept the joyful offering of your Church, and grant that your Son may shine in us as the light that lightens every nation. We ask this in the name of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Prayer After Communion

God for whom we wait, you fulfilled the hope of Simeon, who did not die till he had welcomed the Messiah. Complete in us your perfect will, that we in Christ may share in your eternal kingdom; for he is Lord for ever and ever.

First Reading

8 am              THE FIRST LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 3RD CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF MALACHI BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.

10 am                        A READING FROM THE BOOK OF MALACHI

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like 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 to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

8 am              THE WORD OF THE LORD.

10 am                        HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.

THANKS BE TO GOD.

MALACHI 3:1-4

Psalm

REFRAIN Happy are the people whose strength is in you!

How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. R

The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Happy are they who dwell in your house! they will always be praising you.

Happy are the people whose strength is in you! whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way. R

Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

They will climb from height to height, and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.

Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; hearken, O God of Jacob. R

Behold our defender, O God; and look upon the face of your Anointed.

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. R

For the Lord God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory;

No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk with integrity.

O Lord of hosts, happy are they who put their trust in you! R

PSALM 84

Second Reading

8 am              THE SECOND LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 2ND CHAPTER OF THE LETTER OF TO THE HEBREWS, BEGINNING AT THE 14TH VERSE.

10 am                        A READING FROM THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

8 am              THE WORD OF THE LORD.

10 am                        HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.

THANKS BE TO GOD.

HEBREWS 2:14-18

Gospel

8 am              THE LORD BE WITH YOU.     AND WITH THY SPIRIT.

THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 2ND CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT LUKE, BEGINNING AT THE 22ND VERSE.

GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD

10 am            THE LORD BE WITH YOU.                 AND ALSO WITH YOU.

THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT LUKE.

GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

8 am              PRAISE BE TO THEE, O CHRIST

10 am                        PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.

LUKE 2:22-40

Sermon

Let us pray.

O God, the Giver of all new life, transform our lives and renew your Church through the power of your Holy Spirit; that we might better share with others your life and joy through Jesus Christ, who is our life.

Amen

I can’t tell you where the 40 days since Christmas has gone – they have just flown by. That great festival of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is fading a bit into memory. The keen among us have started planning for next Christmas.

It occurred to me this week that there is a common set of rituals we go through when we are babies, and even before that for that matter. Most of you will know that I don’t have any children of my own, but even so, I have experienced the rituals at the birth of my nieces.

There is the ritual surrounding the discovering you are pregnant that women go through – the exact right time to announce the pregnancy to the father, the scheduling of doctor’s appointments, the starting of pre-natal care.

Then there comes the wider announcements – usually after the end of the first trimester of the pregnancy, which seems to me to be a hold over from the days when miscarriage was a more prevalent problem, anyways the family and friends are told, there are baby showers and gifts given.

The birth happens in the usual sorts of ways and there are usually cigars (tobacco or chocolate) distributed.

Traditionally a woman, after being delivered of her child would come to the church for a blessing and to give thanks to God for safely bringing her through the delivery. That service is still available to us – BCP pg. 573 and BAS pg. 609.

In the traditions of this church, usually the infant is Baptised into the body of Christ and presented to the assembly pretty early in its life. There is usually cake and punch and a bit of a party to celebrate the newest member of the family.

In the tradition of the Church, which in part, were inherited from the even more ancient traditions of Judaism, a child would be brought to the church to be presented for a blessing.

Today we celebrate that Jesus, the very son of God, arrived into the world thoroughly human. His coming arrival was announced to Mary’s sister Elizabeth after Mary and Joseph were told that they would bare a child.

Despite everything that is special about Jesus, Mary was delivered of him in the most ordinary of ways. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in his bed. Care had to be taken to ensure his safety.

At 8 days he would have been circumcised, as is the Jewish custom, to mark him as an obedient member of the people of the Covenant. At 31 days old, he would have been presented in the temple as the first born male child of the family and dedicated to God by handing over the 2 turtle doves or 2 pigeons – this would indicate to any onlooker that that he was from a poor family, the sacrifice to be offered by a family of any means was to have been a lamb.

Then at 40 days, because Jesus was male, and not the 80 days waiting period for female children, Mary presents herself at the Temple for her own ritual purification.

Jesus was a human child, born of a woman, and was subject to the law like any other child born that day in that place.

Jesus was not a “super” baby just a human baby like any other – he cried and grew up and likely argued with his parents and bickered with his siblings. He gained wisdom and lived a thoroughly human existence.

The power of Jesus’ story lies in the facts that he is both fully God and fully human at the same time. The fact that God would lower himself from the heights of a Godly existence to our level accomplishes at least two very important and powerful things.

First, it eliminates any distance between God and humanity. God can now claim first-hand knowledge of the human condition and in the reverse we can claim that our God knows us thoroughly. And Secondly, The human condition is elevated to the level of the Devine – God’s presence among us has sanctified our existence and made it something more than just the mean and lowly, hard-scrabble life that we once lived.

It might be possible to think that the Devine life has been lowered to the level of the human condition. After all, Jesus life here on Earth was filled with the things of a thoroughly human existence – he was born, lived, loved and died here among us in a thoroughly human way.

The difference comes after his death. It was at the moment of his resurrection and his subsequent ascension to the heavenly throne that things change. It is only because of Easter that Christmas holds the power that it does. It is in the conquering of death and all the fear that it had instilled in humanity that Jesus lifted humanity out of the mire into which it had put itself. In Jesus ascension to the Heavenly throne, humanity ascended to the heights of heavenly grace.

The invitation to heaven, to our eternal reunion with God, came into the world with Jesus. Prior to Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension the best we could hope for was that God would live up to his end of the covenant and not bring another flood or other calamity upon our head in exchange for humanity’s keeping the covenant.

We are now called into a restoration of the relationship that existed in the original Garden – one marked by humanity walking in the garden at the side of God.

The call of today’s gospel is a call to awe and wonder and response to this with loving service. Our God has, of his own accord, lived as one of us – God knows us and our frailty and weakness.

We are called to share the love of God – the great love that caused Him to walk among us, as one of us, to reconcile us to God. We are called to love our neighbour as ourselves, as though they were already on the path with us. There is no limitation placed on this – we are not called to distinguish between our neighbours – those who believe as we do from those who don’t, those who look like we do and those who don’t, those who act as we do and those who don’t, etc. We are simply called to love – the rest is in the hands of God.

So, as we refresh and refuel ourselves here to go out into the world for another week, call to mind your neighbour – in the broadest possible terms, not necessarily the person living next to you at home – how can the love of God be made known to them. It is possible that their encounter with you will be the only church that they attend this week. In the same way that you are refreshed and encouraged for the week by your encounters in this place among these people, how can refreshment and encouragement flow through you to those you meet on the path?

You are the face of God to those you encounter. Lay claim to that and encourage and refresh those whom you meet – make known the love of God by the love you show.

AMEN