December 29, 2020

MESSAGE – 27th December 2020 1st Sunday after Christmas

Christmas Blessings to you all.

May God bless you Jesus’ presence of HOPE, PEACE, JOY AND LOVE – with the kind of Christmas Gifts that never, never end.

This year the first Sunday after Christmas is a celebration of the moment when Jesus was presented in the Temple.

Simeon’s prophecy over the baby is a profound and disturbing word about the way Jesus exposes the truth of our hearts.

It calls us to reflection, repentance, and a commitment to a whole new way of being.

All the readings reflect God’s desire to make God’s self-known to humanity, to bring salvation to women and men, and to bring us into relationship with God.

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Israel being saved, filled with justice and ablaze with God’s glory – God revealed through God’s people.

Psalm 148 invites the whole of creation to join in praise of God both because God is the Creator and because of the way God has saved God’s people.

The letter to the Galatians offers a succinct description of how Jesus both revealed God and, by giving us God’s Spirit, brought us into relationship with God.

Finally, Simeon’s prophecy over the baby reveals how Jesus is God’s agent to do the work of revelation and salvation-bringing, while also predicting the sacrifice that this will require.
Anna, of course, verified Simeon’s recognition of Jesus as God’s Sent One.

A significant feature of this week’s Lectionary is that God chose to be embodied in humanity in order to bring salvation to us.

The dedication of Jesus is a moment of revelation of both his divinity (as the revelation of God and the bringer of salvation) and his humanity as he goes through the same ritual of dedication that any other Jewish male child would have done.

One other important feature of this week’s Gospel is that Jesus, in revealing God, will also reveal the true state of our hearts for better or worse.

So, this moment is both a revelation of God and of ourselves. The question is whether we will accept what Christ reveals and how we will respond to it.

As much as the true state of our hearts needs to be revealed in finding solutions to global problems, the same applies on a personal and community level.

It is when we seek to follow the way of Christ that we really discover what is in our hearts.

When questions of forgiveness and grace, of generosity and compassion, of welcome and inclusivity are raised, we soon reveal whether our hearts embrace the principles of God’s Reign or we simply offer lip service to them.

The big challenge here is not just what is revealed, but how we will respond to it.

When we refuse to reflect on the state of our hearts, when we deny that we have parts of ourselves that rebel against God’s Reign, we find ourselves “condemned” – failing to appropriate the abundant life and peace and grace that Christ offers.

But, when we allow Jesus to convict us, when we do the work of reflection, repentance and seeking to change, we embrace God’s life a little more each day.

And, of course, when we are willing to do this work – when we allow the light of Christ’s salvation to shine on us – then we become those who radiate God’s life and light to those around us – welcoming the excluded, comforting the grieving, healing the wounded and protecting the threatened.

Whether it’s an abandoned child or an abused wife, this living out of God’s alternative order, is truly a work of salvation – and it’s what Simeon envisioned as he looked at the baby being dedicated that day.

Both Simeon and Anna uttered words of hope. Simeon saw Jesus as ‘a light of revelation to the Gentiles’. Anna spoke about the child ‘to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem’.

Amid the joy there is a prediction of suffering for Mary as a sword will pierce her soul.

Jesus was presented in the Temple. Two older people model watching and waiting, recognising and giving thanks. May my prayer draw strength from their example.

I ask that like Simeon and Anna that I may recognise Jesus in surprising places and present him to the people of this time.