In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Baby Jesus was taken to the Temple to be presented to the Lord. But He is the Lord. He is the Temple. Sacrifices were offered for Him. Turtledoves taken from the sky, bled and died for Him. Yet He is the Sacrifice. Sins are not loosed from Him, but bound to Him. He gives His Blood to feed His children and no sparrow falls from the sky outside His will. Simeon sees by the Spirit and believes what the angels know: the Baby in Mary’s arms is God, is his salvation and his hope, is the end of his sorrow and his waiting. He takes Jesus into His arms and sings God’s praise. Then he departs in peace, departs to die to this life and be born anew in heaven. Will this same Light enlighten us, O Gentiles? We sometimes forget we are Gentiles. We sometimes forget God doesn’t owe us anything. But still, even in the midst of fall confidence, our fears occasionally rise to the top. So many years have passed. Heaven seems so quiet. Mary’s womb was opened, and so was that of the earth. The graves gave up their dead. But our dead still sleep. They’ve yet to rise. The grave mocks us with a seeming victory. And all we can do is wait. How shall we endure? When shall we lay eyes on God? We must see, as did Simeon, by the Spirit. We must see, as did Simeon, that this Child is God, is God for us, is God with us, is God as One of us to make us like Him. He comes into the Temple to claim His own. Satan cannot have them. He lays bare His chest, exposes Himself to a mortal wound struck in cowardice, and opens not His mouth, like a Sheep to the slaughter, like a turtledove plucked from the sky. He goes willingly, deliberately. He lays down His life to please the Father, to redeem men, to spring free the prisoners in Hell’s fire, to stop the flow of blood. He comes to earth and to the Temple, to the seat of hypocrisy and abuse, of corruption and good things gone bad, to the Strong Man’s lair. He comes to undo the Strong Man with Strength impossible, with Love so great it wipes out hate, with forgiveness so mighty all sins disappear like dew in the noonday sun, with Life so vibrant that death gives up and dies a quiet death. The grave has lost its preening victory. It never had a chance. And then He enters into Satan’s legions to chooses soldiers for Himself, men like Simeon and Anna, James and John and Peter and Mary Magdalene, men like you. He lights the darkness of the world with His Word through the years. He lightens Gentiles. You see and believe. You see by faith not bread and wine but what He has promised you: salvation in His Body, forgiveness in His Blood, fellowship in His Spirit. He is your God, your Temple, your Lord, your Sacrifice and your Savior. He is your peace and joy. And in Him, in that peace that passes all understanding, that which you don’t even understand yourself, you depart to wait for that Day when He will complete in you what He has begun. You shall behold Him then not dimly as in a glass, but face to face, Father to Son, Bridegroom to Bride, Lover to Beloved.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Pastor David Petersen