Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Feast of the Presentation

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the ritual purification of the mother and the required presentation of new male babies and to make a sacrifice that was to happen 40 days after birth.  We read about this event in the second chapter of Luke.

It's been 40 days since Christmas--and this year, Lent begins next week.  But let's not get ahead.

Two things leapt out at me as I read the text for today.  The first is that Mary and Joseph make a sacrifice of turtledoves, which means they couldn't afford a lamb.  I think of the themes of poverty that wind their way through the Bible.  I think of God's habit of appearing where we least expect to find the Holy:  in the small corners of Empire, amongst the poor and outcast, in the body of a tiny baby.

I also think of Simeon, who has been promised that he would see the Messiah--and so he waits and he waits and he waits.  But finally, at the end of his life, he does hold the light of the world in his hands.

Imagine it:  to hold the light of the world in your hands.  In so many ways we still do.  We carry the light of the world inside us.  How can we, as embodied light from God, deliver this light to the world?

The Gospels show us that we have a role to play, even if we are not the Messiah.  Every person is important, even if we're part of the marginalized populations of our societies:  female, poor, old, less educated--the list could go on and on.  But God can use us all.

Some churches and monasteries will bless the year's supply of candles this time of year--in some traditions, we call today Candlemas.  I love this tradition.  Today would be a good day to light a candle and to think about our own lights.  Are we dimly burning wicks?  Take heart--the Bible promises that we can still be useful.  Does our light burn pure and true?  Take care to protect that flame.

Today is the last day of Christmas, but most of us bid that season goodbye 30-40 days ago.  Today would be a good day to give ourselves one last gift:  a meal together with those whom we love perhaps, or some down time to do the activities which bring us joy.

In this way, we can cup our hands around our candlelit lives, which may feel a bit flickery.  In this way, we can protect our dimly burning wicks so that we can live to blaze another day.

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