Rector’s Blog: The Presentation

The Presentation
By Charlie Dupree

In the season of Lent, we get to move alongside Jesus as he makes his way to the Cross. It gets even more real as we enter Holy Week . . . the Last Supper, Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the crucifixion, placement in the tomb, and the resurrection. It’s a very physical time to join hands with our Lord.

In a similar way, the infancy of our Lord is equally as physical. In this season of Epiphany, we get to accompany the infant Christ in those first few weeks and months. We’ve heard about the birth, about the journey of the magi to visit him, of Joseph being warned in a dream to flee from Herod. Jesus sleeps peaceably (I imagine) through the whole thing. But, there’s one more stop. The infancy journey of Jesus continues on Sunday with the presentation in the Temple.

Rainey is preaching on Sunday. I want to be careful not to steal her homiletical thunder, but I can’t help but make a few comments on this – one of my most favorite – passages in all of Scripture: Luke 2:22-24, the gospel appointed for the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple. It was the tradition of the day to present infant children to the priests of the Temple. Only, this priest, Simeon, had a really special treat in store for him that day – Jesus was the child being presented! Simeon had waited all of his life for this moment. “Lord,” he prays, “I can go in peace. My eyes have seen the savior.”

Anna is there, too.

I have a friend who named his first and only daughter after this woman who is called a prophet, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. Scripture tells us that Anna “never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.” She joined Simeon that day in holding and worshipping the infant Messiah.

In my imagination, Anna and Simeon are quiet, faithful figures working in the back rooms of the temple, making sure that everything was just right. I know a lot of people at St. Paul’s like Anna and Simeon. They work tirelessly and faithfully. They attend to details. They make sure everything is just so. They make sure our acolytes have on the right size robe. They make sure the vessels are polished and the linens are ironed. They make sure our bulletins are ready for our guests. They greet visitors and make them feel comfortable. They attend to the details that allow others to worship with heart, body, and spirit.

That’s what worship is about, isn’t it? Receiving Christ. Sometimes Christ enters through the scripture that we read. Sometimes Christ enters through the music that we hear. Sometimes, Christ enters when we’re in conversation with a cup of coffee in our hand. Sometimes, Christ enters through the stranger we’ve never met. The Good News is that Christ is eager to enter our lives. And, on behalf of all of us that long ago day in the Temple, Simeon and Anna cradle the infant Christ and surround him with their love – our love.

May our eyes and hearts be particularly open to the ways that Jesus enters our lives and blesses us with his presence.

See you in church,

Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Richmond, Virginia
Preferred pronouns: he, him, his