Ascension Lutheran Church

Calgary, AB

The Presentation of Our Lord

Luke 2:22-40

[22] 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 [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), [24] and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
[25] 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. [26] It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. [27] 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, [28] Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
[29] “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
[30] for my eyes have seen your salvation,
[31] which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
[32] a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
[33] And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. [34] 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 [35] so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
[36] 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 seven years after her marriage, [37] then 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.
[39] When 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 favor of God was upon him.

This gospel lesson recounts Jesus’ presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem. As was customary under the law, Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem with the infant Jesus, 40 days after his birth, to perform two important rituals. The first was a purification rite for Mary after giving birth—a ritual which marked her re-entry, if you will, into society after the ordeal of giving birth and getting settled as a new mother.

The other rite was the presentation of Jesus at the temple as he was the first-born son and as such was to be dedicated to God. Part of this ceremony involved the parents offering a sacrifice as they were able, and so Mary and Joseph offered a pair of young pigeons.

There they encounter Simeon and Anna, two devout servants of God. Simeon is described as having the Holy Spirit resting upon him, and Anna as a prophet (also an indication of having the Holy Spirit). Both appear to have dedicated most of their lives to waiting for the coming of the Messiah i.e. Jesus.

In our day and age, in many places and among many people, waiting is something to be avoided at all costs. Yet here we have two individuals who rather than avoiding waiting embraced it with their whole lives. That’s not to say waiting is easy, but what we see in Simeon and Anna is worth taking note of.

First of all, their waiting had a purpose or goal. They were specifically waiting for the Messiah promised by God. They didn’t know when he would arrive, but they trusted their waiting would not be in vain. It wasn’t a question of “if” the Messiah would come but “when”—and that made all the difference.

Second, they waited in anticipation and with purpose. It wasn’t simply a matter of them “killing time” until the big event, rather they made the most of the time and opportunities while they waited. In this way when the Messiah did appear they were ready to receive him.

Waiting is never easy, but the examples of Simeon and Anna can model for us what godly waiting looks like.