The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

February 2, 2020

On this day we gather, not only to celebrate a great feast, but also to come together with the whole world and join them in the recognition of who Jesus is and who He is to become.  This is the feast of recognition.  In today’s Scriptures, Luke’s Gospel brings us to the scene of the young couple, Mary and Joseph presenting their child to God as is the custom of the day.  On that very day the Holy Spirit brings into the hearts of a prophet and a prophetess a stirring that leads them to the temple at the exact moment when the child will be there.  The joy of recognition.  Prompted by the Spirit, their eyes see, their hearts connect and the child is recognized.  The significance of this passage has many layers, yet the most obvious is that all people are to recognize Jesus.  Both a prophet and a prophetess come eagerly stirred by the Holy Spirit.  All people, male and female are to recognize Jesus.  We all have a direct line, a direct path.  Secondly, to come to the place of recognition, they were stirred by the Spirit.  Luke says, “Simeon came in the Spirit” into the temple, took the child into his arms and touched the covenant.  Anna, always found in the temple, comes forward at this very time and through her constant prayer, speaks about the child.  This presentation of the parents presenting the child invites us to ponder and reflect on what it means to be in the Spirit.  It also invites us into Anna’s experience and to speak about Jesus from a place of fasting and prayer.  Her eyes are open to this covenant from the consistency of staying open to praying.

For us, we are a people who are great at recognition.  Golden arches signify McDonald’s.  A red soda can is Coke, a swoosh is Nike and three stripes is Adidas.  We are great at recognition and we know the jingles of certain commercials, especially the ones we find annoying.  So this kind of recognition is different.  To recognize as they did, we must live in the Spirit.  Secondly, we must speak to what we know and see only after great prayer.  Living prompted by the Holy Spirit is a place of trust.  What I have found is that when we have a powerful experience of the love of God, as we all have, we want to hold on to it, cherish it, protect it and never leave it.   It is sort of like Peter on the Mountain of the Transfiguration. “Let us build tents here” he says.  But Jesus moves them down from the mountain.  They can’t stay in one place with only one experience of God.  To do this takes trust, to do this we must live with the potential of the next moment.

To speak of the goodness of God is to be a person of prayer.  Anna reveals to us the importance of praying constantly at all hours of the day.  With great insight she shares recognition through a deep sense of fulfillment.  Only great communication with God can give her confidence to speak openly about the child.  Only with great a foundation that comes with a prayer of listening can she arrive from where she was in the temple to gather with Simeon and speak truth about what this child means to the redemption of Jerusalem and the world.

This is a great day for our faith.  We are invited to recognize this same Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread.  We are to recognize this same Jesus in His temple and welcome Him into the temple of our very bodies.

Today we recognize our Savior, Jesus the Lord!

Reverend  John J. Ouper