Sunday, February 2, 2014

Candlemas Sermon 8 AM

Sermon: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (8 AM)

Feb. 2 – 40 days after Christmas, today we celebrate the Feast of The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple! An old tradition holds that today is the last day for our Christmas celebrations! It’s time to take the tree down & the decorations. The last of the celebrations of the birth of Jesus.

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.

Besides Simeon on that day and his words, there was also in the Temple a woman named Anna. 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... We all know of Anna.
She has survived wars and depressions, suffered all manner of intolerance and bigotry, coped with every challenge and disappointment. With her late husband, she worked hard and struggled through lean times to raise her family, seeing to it that all her sons and daughters were educated, established, and loved. Now, well into her ninth decade, her greatest joys are the children of her grandchildren. Anna is a source of joy, inspiration, and grace to her family and friends. Every moment of her long, fruitful life has quietly but brilliantly reflected to all the light of God's love in their midst.

Anna, whose name means "grace" and "favor," walks among us today within our own "temples." For Luke, the elderly prophetess Anna is an icon of the faithful Jew - the "remnant" (Zephaniah 3:12) who awaits the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of Israel's covenant of justice and compassion with God. Luke identifies her as a member of the tribe of Asher, a northern clan of Jews who suffered great hardship during the Assyrian occupation eight centuries before Christ. She is a familiar figure around the temple who devotes all of her time in prayer and fasting in the women's court of the temple.

Anna possesses the wisdom of God that enables her to realize God's presence in every moment; her generosity of heart makes that presence known in the quiet joy and ready compassion she lives. In her graciousness, in her optimism, in her persevering hope, Anna is a prophetess of God's salvation.

There is an Anna in all of our lives: someone who inspires gratitude and teaches compassion by the lessons of her long life. In the wisdom that comes with age, in the love and care they extend to us in their grace and joy, in their faith made strong and unshakable through a lifetime of struggle, the Anna's of our time and place are rays of God's light shining through all of our lives, illuminating the way to God's eternal dwelling place. (Jay Cormier)
Today, we must bear the light of God, and let it shine through our lives…to places of darkness…to be like Anna and help proclaim the Messiah in a world full of suffering.

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.

Into this hope, 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!

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 it is a start for our partnership. Phase II a well for the village is our next step and who knows what else we can accomplish. (I will see later in February!)
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 they are One with us. Like those Moms providing light to their little ones, I pray that we are also helping them with that light in what we have partnered with them. So that all of together can join in with the words of Simeon and Anna:

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. Amen.

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