Cedar Creek Falls & rock pools, Gold Coast, Queensland, ©Mark Hewitt, Photograph
We experience new beginnings all the time, often with out realising it. Sometimes we struggle to take responsibility for new beginnings in our life. We rely on the calendar to tell us when it is time to start over again with new resolutions, or the words in our prayers of confession prompt us to begin again in our faithful walk with God.
We can at times, wait until the conditions are just right to start doing the new thing that God calls us to do. On this first Sunday following Christmas, we hear from Simeon & Anna a declaration and prophesy about the new beginning offered in Jesus, and we are challenged to consider what new beginning we might claim for ourself in Jesus name.
Luke 2:22-40 (NRSV)
Jesus is Presented in the Temple
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
Now 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. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided 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, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then 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 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
There 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 for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 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.
The Return to Nazareth
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
God of creation, God with us,
God of the new creation,
we praise you because we have witnessed
how you birthed redemption for all your creation.
We praise you because you offer new life
to individual people and communities.
You are our comfort, support, relief and our salvation, and we pray your comfort, support, relief,
and salvation for so many this day.
Bless and save the faint-hearted, the sick, the lonely,
those who mourn, those who plead for mercy,
and the famished.
You have made us heir in Christ’s glory,
so help us follow Christ’s example,
taking up the ministry of servanthood.
Feeding the hungry, healing the sick,
welcoming the rejected,
and teaching God’s good news of salvation
through our actions.
May we not stop until your righteousness and praise
spring up before all the nations.
We pray in the name of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
-©Seasons of the Spirit Christmas 1 B 31 Dec 2017