Presentation of the Lord

Simeon, an old man was awaiting.  He was awaiting the consolation of Israel, his poor occupied and often conquered country.  He was awaiting the healing of the violence of the Roman occupation.  He was awaiting the consolation of the heartbreak of his Israel as generations before him had and too many generations of our Jewish brothers and sisters have since.   We all wait:   some for retirement, some for promotion or some for a college acceptance letter.  Others waits are even more precarious as they wait for justice, as they wait for healing as they wait to feed their family.

But there was something different about this awaiting.  He had been given a hope.  The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he should not see death until he had seen the consolation of the Lord.  He held together this hope and despair.  If today were not the Feast of the Presentation, we would be hearing of another kind of holding of hope alongiside despair in the Beatitudes for we are about to launch into the Sermon on the Mount.  Somehow those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn and the meek and the persecuted hold out hope in the Lord that theirs is the kingdom of heaven, that they will be comforted and even inherit the land.  It is that kind of hope that Simeon clung to.

Then suddenly one day the Holy Spirit drives Simeon into the Temple.  He finds Jesus out of the myriad of infants, swoops in and takes the child out of Mary’s arms as she said, “Whaaaat?”  That is not in the bible, but I am pretty sure it happened.  And he says, “Now, Master, let your servant go in peace.”  The hope has been fulfilled.  You can hear the exaltation and indeed relief in his voice for his “eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.”  Now there is a light for all people to witness and the glory of Israel is revealed.  Hope has arrived and found its fulfillment in Christ Jesus.

Our hope does not ebb and flow with circumstances for our hope is in what God has already done.  Jesus has given us redemption and salvation as surely as his Father has given us life.  I got a Facebook message the other day asking me how can I become closer to God?  Although not the usual request from Facebook, I met with that person and said you don’t meet Jesus half way.  He is already there.  He has song his song and danced his dance and its effects are immanent and permanent.  All we do is have to open ourselves to say yes, to accept it.

The Light has already won.  Light is unconquerable.  For all the power we give over to darkness, it is not a real thing.  It is merely the absence of light.  If I were to turn out every light in this Church and all that remained is this one little candle, at least in that space the light would win.  If I were to land in the deepest cave and merely lit a match, for all the foreboding darkness, where the match was lit, the light would win.  Jesus Christ is the light that has come to dispel the darkness of our world.

When we had to choose a new name for the Parish, I submitted a name just like everyone else.  The name I chose came from this Feast Day:  The Presentation of the Lord.  Yes, somehow I chose a name actually longer that the one we got.  (By the way, you know I have the longest address in the County:  Reverend Robert Longobucco, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Schenectady, New York.)  But I thought nothing would name our mission better that to present the Lord – to let others know of the consolation Jesus brings, to share his light to those in darkness and to shout God’s love from the rooftops.  

That of course is not the name of our parish, but it is still our job.  We must go to the hidden corners of injustice and shed his light.  We must go to those shadowed by indifference or rejection and welcome them to this light.  We must dive into pools to oppression and insist on this light.  At our baptism we heard the words, “You have been enlightened by Christ.”  Where is the light needed now in our lives and the lives of others?  Where can we present the Lord?