Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Proper of Yesterday: The Presentation

The Presentation
Trinity Parish in Bergen Point, New Jersey
Stained Glass

Yesterday we celebrated the Major Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple. This is another one of those temporal-bound observances based on the date of Christmas, and is based on the commandment from Torah to present and redeem the first-born son at the Temple fourty days after his birth. St. Luke records that both Simeon and Anna, revered prophets who lived in the Temple precincts, greeted the arrival of Jesus with joy. The traditional Compline (and Evensong in the Anglican tradition) canticle Nunc Dimmitis "Lord, now let your servant go in peace" is based on this text.

I was intrigued by the Second Lesson at Morning Prayer for this day. Usually, on Major Feasts, it's pretty easy to figure out the connection to the feast itself. For example, the First Lesson Evening Prayer is from Haggai and speaks of the glory of the new Temple that the people are rebuilding. Since Jesus is presented at the Temple, it's a nice correlation to the commemoration itself. But I guess I'm having a brain block. Here's the lesson - it's John 8:31-36:

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

I really cannot see the connection here, but there must be one. Maybe it's obvious to everyone but me. What do you think?

Incidentally, I was ordained priest on this day in 2007, and I can't believe it's been a full year already! The Song of Simeon has always been my most favorite canticle, and so I was and always will be delighted that my ordination fell on this particular feast. God is good indeed!


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