Sunday 2nd February 2014
Malachi 3:1-5 and Luke 2:22-40
Presentation of Christ in the Temple
Having faith is beginning to see things as they really are. Faith in Christ changes the way we see things and people - or let me say ‘has the potential to change..’. For faith is about an inner change that reveals itself in outward actions. That inner change of heart and direction of life will affect the way we see and interact with the world around us if we go on that journey. If we take that step of letting God work in us.
Perspectives shift as we let God become ‘greater’ in us than whatever else might be in the world. (1 John 4.4). That seems to be emphasis in Malachi today as the prophet points towards a time where God draws near and where evil actions and actors will be revealed for what they are: actions and people that make light of what true worship is, rob humanity of its true purpose, that steal from the poor, that oppress the weak, that ignore the needy. This coming of God will take away the stench of a life that is defined only by self-preservation and greed and offer a new beautiful fragrance that opens up life in all its fullness for everyone. God will show what true worship is - worship that shapes and mould us into his people.
The Gospel passage shows how Simeon sees Jesus for who he is - sees the coming of God into his temple - see that this babe in arms will be the one who will bring a broom to sweep away the dross and dust of dry religion, and usher in a living a dynamic relationship with the Father.
Simeon sees with the eyes of the Spirit - who guides him to that right place, and right time. That same Spirit who will speak through Anna. That same Spirit who will fall on Jesus at his baptism (Lk 3.22); that same Spirit who leads Jesus into the wilderness (Lk 4.1), that same Spirit who anoints Jesus for the preaching of a new kingdom (Lk 4.18). It is that same Spirit who Luke tells us is poured out on the disciples (Acts 2.4) and who breaks down dividing walls and barriers (Acts 10.34)
It is the Spirit who works in us and re-forms us into a people who can speak of such a kingdom and love of God today.
It the Spirit who will work in us and help us to see people and things as they really are. Who in turn will be a people who help others to see.
The challenge for all of us who are followers of Jesus is not to be stumbling block or a wall that prevents others from seeing Jesus. In our own actions and in our own words - how do they help others see Jesus for themselves?
If our words and lives create boundaries and obstacles we must ask the Spirit to shed his light on us so that we might see them and begin to dismantle them.
John is the Vicar of St Paul’s, Tupsley and St Andrews, Hampton Bishop in Hereford Diocese. He’s also currently doing Doctoral Studies at Kings College London.