It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Luke 2:22-40; Hebrews 2:14-18

My Cokesbury Bible has a heading for Hebrews 2:5-18, "Exaltation through Abasement." Even Jesus was made, for a while, lower than angels. As a human being, as one like us, Jesus suffered and died (2:6-9). Jesus becomes for us a pioneer, one who shows us the way (10).

Luke tells us: As a human child, born to Jews in that part of the world, he was taken to the temple in Jerusalem. This ritual was in response to the law that the first born belonged to the Lord. Note that the law intended for the parents to offer a substitutional sacrifice, e.g., a pair of turtledoves or pigeons.

This reading in Hebrews focuses on the temple and the High Priest in the temple. Jesus is both the sacrifice and the priest. Jesus suffers. Jesus intercedes for those who are suffering.

Notice how Luke blends into his account both law and the Spirit. The family are religiously scrupulous--in ways that may no longer be applicable in their specifics but are admirable in their attentiveness. They come to the temple because their religious practices require it. Simeon comes to the temple because he has been led by the Spirit. Look around you at church Sunday. The people you will see there have come because they think it is the right thing to do, the expected thing. And you will see people who have been led there by the Spirit. And for some, both apply.

A traditional canticle in Evening Prayer is the Nunc Dimitis, Simeon's prayer of praise to God when he sees the infant Jesus brought into the temple. YouTube has many, many videos of this canticle; e.g., Stanford Nunc Dimittis.

Another blending in this passage--the salvation promised by the prophets is not just for the traditional religious insiders. As you pray Simeon's prayer, consider who are the Gentiles in our world
Read about Anna's response, and think about your own.

Here are some excuses that will not work:
I'm too old.
I'm not important.
I don't have family support.
I'm not able to get around very far.
At least, they didn't work for Anna. Why is it that we don't speak about what we know?

No comments: