Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions 2017 will be our daily devotional guide for the coming year. If you are interested in purchasing a devotional book in paperback or digital format, please follow THIS LINK.
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.
New beginnings fill our lives—some long-awaited, some carefully planned. Others emerge from the routine of ordinary life like in today’s reading.
A look at the calendar tells Mary and Joseph that the time has come for Mary’s purification and for Jesus’ presentation. Mary and Joseph follow the requirements of Mosaic law by journeying to Jerusalem and offering the prescribed sacrifice. This event is not exceptional. Other firstborn males have been designated as holy in this customary fashion.
But something extraordinary flows from this widely practiced ritual. Simeon and Anna testify to the birth of something new. They witness a departure from the usual presentation of a child. Simeon and Anna see a boy unlike other boys; they see a light for revelation, a redeemer. Two lessons follow from this story of good news. The first: Simeon’s faithfulness provides the extraordinary moment of revelation. That signals a call to us to keep going to the sanctuary, to continue praying, to keep our eyes and ears open for divine moments of revelation. I have discovered that they usually come as a surprise even though I have been praying for them for years.
The second lesson: Beyond seeking the usual prescribed path and expecting nothing new, the extraordinary comes from the ordinary. We remember to keep praying for fresh insights, new understandings and a deepening of our faith. Simeon’s song of praise that now he can depart in peace beautifully reassures those of us seeking new life in the old temples. It reminds us to keep searching for God’s revelations and the truth that dwells in us.
Gracious and loving God, open us to your renewing work in our lives. May we relax the clenched fists that hold tight to what is known and comfortable and open welcoming arms to new revelations that come at unexpected times. Amen.
©2016 The Upper Room*. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Scripture Reading from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.