Darkness and Light – The Presentation of Our Lord ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI
Reading 1:MAL 3:1-4
R PsalmPS 24:7, 8, 9, 10
Reading 2: HEB 2:14-18
Gospel: LK 2:22-40 OR 2:22-32
22When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him 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 designated as holy to the Lord”), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25Now 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. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided 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, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then 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 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36There 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, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 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. 39When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
Today,we as a church celebrate The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast is celebrated exactly 40 days after the birth of the Lord. This Feast is also known by the name of ‘Candlemas’, as the church blesses candles and often hold candle processions on this day, to indicate the light of Christ in the world.
Today is a day of both shadow and light. But it is not limited to today. Shadow and light are the reality of our lives and our world each and every day. As human, sometimes we go into the darkness by our own choices or actions and at other times it may be as a result of someone else’s action or simply through the circumstances of lives.
Sometimes we hide in the darkness avoiding the light because we are ashame or feel guilty. We do not want to admit the truth of our lives to ourselves and we sure do not want another to see that truth about us – our thoughts or the things we have done and left undone. The shadows, we sometimes think will hide us. Other times we may live in the night of fear not knowing what will come next or how we will cope. We may experience times when we sense being powerlessness and life seems out of control. There are those times when the black hole of sorrow and grief sucks out the life and the light of our world and we seem unable to escape the darkness. Sometimes we experience the darkness of ignorance and confusion at those times. We can become blind to our own identity, lost on the path of life, seemingly without meaning or direction.
No matter how large we may sometimes feel the shadow in our life to be, or how dark the night may seem to us, the light of the Lord is still ever present.
Sacred Tradition says that Simeon was 270 years old when he met Jesus in the temple and that he was blind. Yet Simeon himself declares to God, “My eyes have seen your salvation.”
Yes, Simeon was blind. Yes, Simeon saw salvation. But he did not see with physical eyes. He saw with the eyes of his heart. Simeon experienced an inner seeing.
Christ is both the Light we see and the Illumination by which we see.
That Light and that Illumination are revelatory. They reveal mercy and forgiveness in the shadows of guilt and shame, presence and courage in the night of fear, compassion and hope in the blackness of sorrow and loss, a way forward in the blindness of ignorance and confusion, and life in the darkness of death. The flame of God’s love consumes the darkness, fills us, and frees us to go in peace just as God promised. We have seen salvation and Simeon’s song now becomes our song.
Hence the link with the candles that we link with today. Our Lord Jesus is the one light which is eternal. No matter how dark we may at times see our lives as being, no matter the situation we may be facing, we know the Lord has been there first and is our ever loving and ever guiding light. All we need to do is reach out, let our faith see that light and to let it always guide us.
Let us pray to our Lord, the light of the world:
O Lord, We thank you for the light that shines from within! Help us this day and always to recognize the several points of light that shine within us: the light of faith, the light of hope, the light of love! Regardless of whether or not the sun is shining or the rain is falling in our lives, remind us that there is a light that you have given us that is eternal and which will never go out. Help us through our lives to brighten the world of the depressed, to glow in a world of darkness and to shine when others struggle to find joy. Remind us that we have a light and that you have commanded us to let our light shine. In a time of pain, may our light be a light of peace. In a time of hate, may our light be a light of love. In a time of poverty, may our light be a light of prosperity. In a time of scarcity, may our light be a light of abundance. Bless us this day and always to be your shining light to the world. Help us to let that light shine that all people might see your goodness, mercy and power, shining through what they see in us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour we pray. Amen.
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