January 1, 2006 - Year B - Christmas 1

Luke 2:22-40

 22 When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. 24 And they offered a sacrifice as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

25 There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, 26 and he had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. 27 So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law.

28 Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying,

29 "Now, O Lord, you can dismiss
your servant in peace,
for you have fulfilled your word
30 and my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you display for all the people to see.
32 Here is the light you will reveal to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel."

33 His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, "See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel. He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, 35 while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light.”

36 There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. 37 She was now eighty-four. 38 Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

39 When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. 40 There the child grew in stature and strength and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

• 22. Mary and Joseph went to the temple to fulfill a ritual of the Jewish religion (Lev 12:8). Jesus being a firstborn male must be consecrated to God (Ex 13:1).

Simeon and Anna like Mary and Joseph belong to the "small remnant of Israel," This minority of God’s people live their faith in humility and faithfulness to the prophets' teaching: God knows how to make himself known to them.

What is the meaning of the sword that will pierce Mary's soul? It indicates Mary's grief upon seeing her Son die on the cross. It also signifies that Mary will suffer because she will not always understand what her Son does. The best-shared love will not prevent each from remaining a mystery to the other, and more so for God than for anyone else. God does not watch our fidelity from heaven, but rather seeks us (he tries us in the sense of asking us to reveal ourselves). The love of the Father will be Mary's cross just as it would be for Jesus.

Christ is God's light which enlightens people, but which also blinds and confuses them at times. He is a sign that is opposed, but this is a mystery – those who oppose him are not always the worst. There are some people who believe in Christ, but do not follow him. Unable to see his light they do not know that it condemns them. There are good people who do not believe because God wills that they seek the light their whole life long.   

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Comments by Wesley

1. Have you blessed GOD for the glimpse you have had of the fulfillment of your life?

This takes three things: 1) a sense of what your life is about, 2) an awareness of how this is completed or made whole, and 3) the energy or desire to acknowledge all this.

Or it takes two things: 1) awakening through an event to what you have been aiming for and  2) the energy or desire to respond.

Or it takes one thing: to give thanks in all things for being joined in partnership with all things.

2. Have you blessed another for their potential?

Blessed are you who can see another.

Blessed are you who anticipate the rise and fall of systems without getting caught in them.

Blessed are you who are not afraid of contradiction and who will mentor it to productively reveal the secrets of systems and subjects.

Blessed are you who do not require comfort to be faithful but will be so in the most difficult of situations.

3. Have you blessed your self?

Remember the two great commands: to love God and to love neighbor as you love your self. The recognition of that trinity will be a blessing to you and all if you all three parts are alive and well.

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