The Presentation and Candlemas, Feb 2, 2020

Title:The Presentation and Candlemas, Feb 2, 2020

 The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Year A, Feb. 2, 2020 (full size gallery)

This was a triple header Sunday with Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Candlemas and the Souperbowl. This is a feast day and pre-eempted Epiphany 4. The Presentation occurs 40 days after Christmas and is mid-way between the Winter solstice and the Spring equinox.

We had 25 at the service and concluding with coffee hour with a variety of sandwiches and salad and cakes for dessert.

The altar was changed celebrating candlemas with votive candles suspended in water on both side. The flowers were quince.

The service started out with this solemn entrance:

Dear brothers and sisters,
forty days have passed since we celebrated the joyful feast
of the Nativity of the Lord.
Today is the blessed day
when Jesus was presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph.
Outwardly he was fulfilling the Law,
but in reality he was coming to meet his believing people.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit,
Simeon and Anna came to the Temple.
Enlightened by the same Spirit,
they recognized the Lord
and confessed him with exultation.
So let us also, gathered together by the Holy Spirit,
encounter God in this holy place.
Here we shall see him in this present time in the light of these candles,
and recognize him in the breaking of the bread,
until he comes again, revealed in glory.

The service featured a hymn that Catherine composed the words. She also played piano on WLP 791, “Peace Before Us” at the offertory.

We celebrate the Presentation of Jesus in the temple and the appearance of Simeon and Anna. Simeon’s story is one of fulfillment in that he was promised to gaze upon the baby Jesus, realizing his greatness before Simeon died. The sermon is here

“Simeon and Anna have much to teach us about how to live in this moment. Each moment of our lives catches us up in the intersection between the past and the future. The future, which we cannot see or imagine, awaits, and we enter the future with every new breath. Simeon and Anna show us that faithful waiting and steadfast openness to God can help us enter the future faithfully and without fear, trusting in God’s promise of salvation and redemption for us.

“When we wait faithfully and with a steadfast openness to God for the promises that the future holds rather than with fear and doubt, our waiting can turn us into light seeking light, even in the darkest, most uncertain moments of our lives, when we have every reason to doubt and to fear and to wonder if God even exists.”

Catherine used two Jewish writers that connected the holocaust. Of Victor Frankel “And so Frankl lived through this horrid time of his life with a faithful and steadfast openness to the future, knowing that the infinite and light filled glory of God’s love would fill all of the unknowns ahead of him, even his own death.”

“Reb Azriel David was packed into a cattle car headed toward Treblinka, another concentration camp. He listened to the sounds of the people crowded around him, people full of doubt and fear about their futures.

“He heard crying, moaning, weeping, and praying. He heard some taking their last breaths and dying.

“As he listened, a tune came to him, and he began singing a song of hope.

“As more and more of the prisoners learned and sang this song it eventually became known, according to Wikipedia, as the Hymn of the Camps. Many Jews sang this song as they were herded into the concentration camp gas chambers.

Ani Ma’amin is a song of deep faith. The words in English are as follows.
“I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may tarry, nevertheless I await his coming every day.” Here is a link to the piece

Simeon was a devout man who was constantly waiting.. and waiting for a savior. Time was running out and with the Romans in charge a savior seemed a long way off. However, it was told to him he would not die until he saw the Messiah. However, I like what Paul-Gordon Chandler writes in his book Songs In Waiting:

“Many biblical commentators have interpreted his song as meaning he was at last free to die, presumably due to his old age after all those years of waiting to see the Messiah. However, the heart of Simeon’s verse is that he was released into freedom, enabled to experience the gift of life anew. Essentially, Simeon now understood what it meant to be at peace with himself, because of what he “saw” in the temple…What Simeon saw made all the difference, providing this new sense of release to enter a new existence.

Chandler describes Rembrandt’s painting shown above. “And Simeon, rather than looking at the child he is holding, is gazing up at God, with the baby’s head slightly turned, his eyes watching Simeon’s upward gaze.” “…it almost seems that Simeon and the Christ Child are looking up because they have heard a voice. If this is true, perhaps the more accurate question is, What did Simeon hear that so changed him? Interestingly, Simeon’s name means “one who hears…”What Simeon experienced is an illumination into his own experience and life, as well as a vision into new vistas on God’s character. ” He understood this Messiah was not just for the Jews but for all people. Simeon had received a gift.

“The spirit in which Simeon sings demonstrates for us that this new revelation of God’s character brought him tremendous security, an inner calm. He also ex­perienced a cessation of the intensity and enslavement of living in the future, and a freedom from the dete-minedness that had accompanied him all his life…”

At the same time “Simeon’s release to a new kind of life of peace en­tailed a revelation of suffering… In addition to the joy of being alive, there is also the sadness and hurt of being alive… In his statement to Mary, he is saying that the greatest circumstance of suffering in this world will bring about the greatest miracle of peace that has ever taken place.

But yet in the midst of this as Chandler write “We are enabled to ride through the storms of life because we know that the paradox of suffering betokens a reality beyond the storm more precious than we can imagine.”

Chandler concludes Advent – “So every year, as the Advent season draws to a close and we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we are presented with both a challenge and an invitation. This child, born into our world, made possible for Simeon not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living. Seeing the Christ Child gave Simeon a fresh revelation of God and the way God uses suffering. This revelation is one that each of us can experi ence this Advent. The child in Simeon’s arms gives us a new ability to live a new kind of life, where both living in the present and living with suffering are immeasurably deepened”