Presentation of Christ 02 February 2020 A.D. Holy Communion

Presentation of Christ                     02 February 2020 A.D.         Holy Communion

                       The Epistle.  Malachi 3:1-5                       The Gospel. St. Luke 2:22-40

                                    Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech
                                    thy Majesty, that , as thy only-begotten Son was this
                                    day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh,
                                    so may we be presented unto thee with pure and clean
                                    hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
                                                                                                            Amen.


            Here we have Malachi speaking with great authority about the coming Messiah. There is no doubt in his message. And as the events begin to unfold some four hundred years after Malachi spoke, everything fell into place. The Messiah had long been called “He that should come.”  And as events unfolded, he did come. He came to the river Jordan where he was baptized and then went off into the wilderness to begin forty days of fasting and eventual temptation by Satan.  In our Gospel reading we see the “prequel” to what Malachi was writing about. 
   The Presentation of Christ to the priests at the Temple was an act directed by Moses. The first born son, he who “opened” the womb, was to be presented to the Temple and the priest for a special blessing.   And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons.
      This Mosaic law was a foreshadowing of the coming One, the promised Messiah. All first born males were to be presented to the Temple and the Lord. So the precedent was set for the eventual presentation of the Messiah to the Lord at the Temple.  
      Notice something else about this special presentation?  Two people, two faithful very elderly people would be the first to publically declare the divinity of Christ to who ever was in the Temple square at the time.  The shepherds were told of the Messiah’s birth, the Magi came to worship the King of the Jews, but this very public ceremony that was required was the first time anyone declares who Christ is.  
    These two senior citizens, filled with the Holy Spirit, would declare Christ to the world. First Simeon: 
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

    Can you imagine Mary’s reaction to an old man approaching the young couple and just taking the infant Jesus from her arms and making the bold declaration?   And read what he says about those of us who are not of Hebrew origin: “...For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
    Then without missing a beat, another elderly person stepped up and blessed Christ Jesus, and told anyone who was near: “And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”  Anna had been on “duty” at the temple for at least 84 years!  She was there at the right time, Holy Spirit revealing the Christ, the Messiah, and she testified to that fact.  Would we have been that faithful. She had served at the temple, fasting and praying from the time she lost her husband some 80 plus years earlier. Wow. In our limited mind set we try put God into some type of schedule or time-table, something that fits our understanding of how things should be done or work.  Not so the Lord.
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.  But notice the “suddenly” is in God’s timing, not ours.  The Messiah “he that should come”, and He did. But he came as God had planned and in His timing. Arriving as a baby, presented to the Hebrew world within weeks of his birth, making another appearance to the Hebrew world at age 12 and then no showing up again in public until he went to the Jordan River for his baptism.

       Now if we go back to Malachi he has prophesied the work of the Messiah, the Lord, the Christ, which is a cleansing of HIS people. “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.”  
    What are the parallels of this cleansing and purifying?  How about Romans 8:28-31.. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” 
   As we are called according to God’s purpose, He cleanses us (justifies us) and He gives us purpose; being conformed to the image of his Son, we will then be glorified. 
   So being in Christ we should never fear that process.  As Matthew Henry commented on these passages “...The believer needs not fear the fiery trial of afflictions and temptations, by which the Saviour refines his gold. He will take care it is not more intense or longer than is needful for his good; and this trial will end far otherwise than that of the wicked. Christ will, by interceding for them, make them accepted. Where no fear of God is, no good is to be expected.”
   So our cleansing and refining is to the divine purpose of God’s work, we must be patient during the process. We many times do not see the end results as they may be far in the future.
   He will not make us endure more than we are able, He only refines and purifies us as what is needed for His purpose. 
   Sounds like a mystery?  It isn’t.  God’s plans are not our plans. He knows and holds the future, we should keep the faith and understand that He is there for us, He sent His Son Jesus to shed his blood so that we would be wholly acceptable to the Holy One, God the Father, our Creator. 
Let us pray:

NOW the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.                                                           Amen.

HEAR us, most merciful God, for that part of the Church which thou hast planted in our land, that it may hold fast the faith which thou gavest unto the Saints, and in the end bear much fruit to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.                                              Amen.

O GOD of all the nations of the earth, remember the multitudes of the heathen, who, though created in thine image, are ignorant of thy love; and grant that by the prayers and labours of thy holy Church they may be delivered from all superstition and unbelief, and brought to worship thee; through him whom thou bait sent to be our salvation, the same thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.                                                                                                         Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore.
Amen.

 

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