Sunday, February 01, 2015

Great Expectations

Today we celebrated Candlemas which for some means absolutely nothing, for others it means that it is time to take down the Christmas tree or what's left of it, but for some of us it means (from the Catholic Encyclopedia),

"The Purification of the Blessed Virgin (Greek Hypapante), Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Observed 2 February in the Latin Rite.
According to the Mosaic law a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification"; for a maid-child the time which excluded the mother from sanctuary was even doubled. When the time (forty or eighty days) was over the mother was to 'bring to the temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin'; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed. (Leviticus 12:2-8)
Forty days after the birth of Christ Mary complied with this precept of the law, she redeemed her first-born from the temple (Numbers 18:15), and was purified by the prayer of Simeon the just, in the presence of Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:22 sqq.). No doubt this event, the first solemn introduction of Christ into the house of God, was in the earliest times celebrated in the Church of Jerusalem. We find it attested for the first half of the fourth century by the pilgrim of Bordeaux, Egeria or Silvia. The day (14 February) was solemnly kept by a procession to the Constantinian basilica of the Resurrection, a homily on Luke 2:22 sqq., and the Holy Sacrifice. But the feast then had no proper name; it was simply called the fortieth day after Epiphany. This latter circumstance proves that in Jerusalem Epiphany was then the feast of Christ's birth.
From Jerusalem the feast of the fortieth day spread over the entire Church and later on was kept on the 2nd of February, since within the last twenty-five years of the fourth century the Roman feast of Christ's nativity (25 December) was introduced. In Antioch it is attested in 526 (Cedrenus); in the entire Eastern Empire it was introduced by the Emperor Justinian I (542) in thanksgiving for the cessation of the great pestilence which had depopulated the city of Constantinople. In the Greek Church it was called Hypapante tou Kyriou, the meeting (occursus) of the Lord and His mother with Simeon and Anna." 
Simeon and Anna were described in today's sermon as examples of great patience,
 "...He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah." - Luke 2:25b-26
 "...She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four..." - Luke 2:36b-37a
They were waiting on the Lord both in the sense of waiting for his arrival (Simeon) and waiting by serving Him through prophecy, prayer, and worship (Anna).

What are we waiting for, and what should we do while we wait?

Are we waiting for the Church to change to appease our desires?

Are we waiting for people to change?

Are we awaiting the day of His coming again in glory?

Are we considering the effects of our desires for change on how the Gospel will be passed along to future generations?

Are we expecting people to change without providing them with knowledge of the life changing Gospel of Christ?

Are we preparing people for when He returns?

The examples of Simeon and Anna remind us to be righteous and devout, to wait patiently, to worship night and day, and to always be fasting and praying.

And just maybe we will be blessed like Simeon and Anna were.

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