“Be Anointed” – Sunday preview by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
Sergey Zagraevsky. New Year still-life. 60×80 oil, canvas. 2002
I hope your Christmas Day was filled with love and hope. Sharing the evening worship with many of you was a truly moving and holy experience that I am so grateful for. This coming Sunday we will again have two Services. One at 11am and a Watchnight Service at 11pm. Both will be services you will not want to miss.
This new year in the church is an interesting year in terms of the calendar. Christmas Eve and Advent IV were on the same day. When we get into 2018 Valentine’s Day is Ash Wednesday and Easter is April Fool’s Day. Having secular and religious days coinciding will offer us interesting and unique opportunities to experience God with our surrounding communities. Each of those days on their own have certain expectations of celebrations but this year we are anointing them with the holiness that accompanies Lent. Which ties into our scripture this week from Luke.
This week’s scripture follows our newly born baby Jesus into the social habits and rituals that are expected of every baby of his era and religious upbringing. Mary and Joseph had certain expectations as to what should traditionally happen when bringing your baby son to the temple. However, Simeon makes the day even more special by continuing the anointing of Jesus as the Messiah.
“When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. (Luke 2:22-40 NRSV)”
With the new year we will have certain expectations of what is to come. There will be births and deaths, marriages and partings, new friends and unforeseen adventures. We know that they are coming and we think we know how God will show up. What Simeon and Anna offers us in this week’s scripture is the reminder that even in the expectations of the new year, God will surprise us. God will show us new things and work in ways we could have never imagined. But we need to be open to seeing it. We need to let go of our expectations and let God anoint the mundane and make new that which we have let become dull. The unexpected pair of Anna and Simeon are just who we need for 2018.
So, Church, as the new year comes and we feel caught in the same routines let us look for the way God is making new pairs, showing us new paths to journey, and anointing things we have long overlooked. May 2018 show you God in new ways and may you in turn share that blessing with others.