Children's Sermon: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (10:15 AM)
Today is Feb. 2 – 40 days after Christmas! An old tradition holds that today is the last day for our Christmas celebrations! It’s time to take the tree down & the decorations. Today is The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, our last day to celebrate his birth…let’s hear the story again.
It was a tradition among the Jews that the first boy child born to a family was to be taken to the Temple in Jerusalem. There his parents would make an offering to the Lord, to show that the child belonged to God.
When Jesus was forty days old, Joseph and Mary brought Him to the Temple as was the custom. As an offering, Joseph bought a pair of young pigeons to place upon the altar of the Temple.
Living in Jerusalem at that time was a very holy man, a man whom the Lord had spoken to, his name was Simeon, and he was very old, but the Lord had told him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.
One day the Spirit of the Lord urged Simeon to go to the Temple. He went, and was there when Joseph and Mary came with the baby Jesus, to present their offering. When Simeon saw the child, Simeon took Jesus in his arms and gave thanks to the Lord for letting him see the Messiah:
"Lord, you now have set your servant free, to go in peace as you have promised; For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see: A Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel."
Then Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary. He also told Mary some of the things the future would hold, for her son and for her. He told her of the greatness her son would attain, but he added that sorrow, like a sword, would pierce her heart too.
There was also in the Temple a woman named Anna, who spoke with God. She spent all her time praying. And the Lord also revealed to her that the baby Jesus was the Savior who had been promised. She too gave thanks to the Lord, and told the other people in the Temple that the Redeemer had come.
And so it was that a few people who kept close to God knew Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus was the light of God to everyone... But most people merely thought of him as the son of Mary & Joseph, who came from Nazareth. Today we remember Simeon and Anna and their role in helping us proclaim Jesus.
At the end of the service, I will need your help, so we all can proclaim that light but I’ll tell you more then…
Bono once said, “We have a lot to prove, but if the M.D.G. agreement had not been made in 2000, much less would have happened than has happened. Already, we’ve seen transformative results for millions of people whose lives are shaped by the priorities of people they will never know or meet...”
Indeed, we have joined with Bono and so many others in helping fulfill the 8 MDGs.
An African folktale recalls a woman named Unanana who lived in a hut near the road with her two beautiful children. One day while Unanana was away gathering firewood, a giant elephant with one tusk came, swallowed her children, and ran off with the children inside its belly. When Unanana returned and learned what had happened, she declared, “There is but one thing I must do; I must go into the bush and save my children.”But sometimes, the elephant is too big for Unanana to take on herself. She needs help. When the MDGs were first put together in the year 2000, the hope was that many of its goals would be accomplished by the year 2015 (next year!) in helping people and countries suffering from extreme poverty, where diseases are rampant and education was lacking, by those who could help. We joined this effort in 2013, to help a community 19+ hours away from us!
With a hunting knife and a pot of beans, she went into the bush and found and killed the elephant, to rescue her children and all the other creatures the elephant had consumed. To save her children, there were no limits to what Unanana would do. An enemy had taken them. She had to rescue those she loved.
We entered into a partnership with the village of Megumeto, Mozambique and its church of St. John. Some moms were running a nursery school for the kids but they didn’t have a building that could hold them. On top of this, their water source was some 5 kilometers away from the village. A long way to walk and carry water!
After hearing about their need in the summer of 2012, we decided to help. We started the first nursery school here in Monroe, and how great it is that we can help another community have its first nursery school. So we raised $5,000. Individuals. The Church School through bake sales and a lemonade stand. Money from the Apple Festival & ECW. Several memorial donations. All came together to help people we have never met, know they have a place in our world. Phase I is done. $5,000 for a Nursery School & a Water collection system. Water, Education - they are part of the MDGs and a start for our partnership. Phase II a well for the village is our next step and who knows what else we can accomplish.
As our own Bishop Douglas put it, “And here is where the church, the body of Christ…can play an incredibly important role in the movement to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Being faithful to the call to God's mission, effecting God's shalom, is what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus. To join with sisters and brothers in Christ, with people of other faiths, with wider global civil society to be about the repair of the world.
The movement is not about a single quick fix, done today and forgotten tomorrow. It's about building a movement of God's people in response to the Missio Dei. So as Christians, as Anglicans, as Episcopalians, we have a key role to play in the shalom movement of the MDGs. Let's be about it.”
And we are. We shall know more after this month, for we will continue to get to know a community of faith a world away and yet who walk with us, in the words of Micah: as we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God. Amen.