This Sunday is probably one of the least known and observed Sundays on the liturgical calendar. It’s “Presentation of the Lord” Sunday. The assigned gospel reading is from Luke 2. It’s the story of Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus in the temple to be consecrated to the Lord. Simeon, who has been told by the Holy Spirit that he will not die until he has seen the Messiah, presides over the consecration. Upon seeing Jesus, Simeon knows that this baby, Jesus, is the promised Messiah. In his excitement, Simeon takes Jesus into his arms and joyfully proclaims what this baby will be to and do for everyone, not just some chosen ones.
There is another person in the temple that day that becomes part of Jesus’ dedication ceremony and story. It’s a woman prophet by the name of Anna. Anna gives a prophecy about Jesus right there in the temple during his consecration. (Well, there goes that theory about no women preachers or prophets, huh?) At the dedication of Jesus, a women gives a prophecy over the baby Jesus! I love this story! Once again, when you look carefully, the truth about God flies in the face human traditions.
The Epistle text for this Sunday is from Hebrews 2. It supports Simeon’s prophecy that Jesus indeed came as a gift from God to everyone and not just some chosen ones. The writer of Hebrews emphasizes this point by saying “For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham’s descendants.” (Christians believe that we are Abraham’s descendants.) “For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God …”
Many years ago Oswald Chambers said to a group of students in a college chapel service: “We have to learn to make room for God — to give God “elbow room.” We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come as He chooses. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way. At any moment He may break in. Always be in a state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come as He likes.” Chambers is right and we all know only too well that life is anything but predictable! Human nature is not fixed and settled. The good news is that we live under hope. That hope is rested in God, not the situation. Jesus is our merciful and faithful high priest in service to God!
Simeon made room for the divine. He and Anna made room and were expecting the divine to show up in their lives. Are we expecting Jesus, our merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God, to show up in our lives? Author Ken Blanchard has said, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.” That certainly describes God’s concern for you and me. God is not just interested in our lives; God is committed to Jesus, being “Our Merciful and Faithful High Priest.”
Join us for worship at Covenant this Sunday. We will be making room for God in our worship as we are expecting a special guest to show up, “Jesus, Our Merciful and Faithful High Priest.” The scripture text for this sermon is “Hebrews 2:14-18” and “Luke 2:22-40.”