Traditions

Bible Text: Luke 2:22-40 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

Christmas traditions run pretty high in my household. There are certain things that must be done, as a rule! Following the Christmas Eve service we must drive around looking at lights while listening to a radio drama of A Christmas Carol dating back to the 1960s. On Christmas day one must not look, open or touch the stockings until everyone is ready and after stockings one has strata, a bread, cheese and egg casserole for breakfast. A more recent but now just as important tradition is that we must skype with family members some time between the morning flurry of gifts and the main meal. Which interestingly enough, the dinner, in our house can be anything from a fancy fish to chili by the camp fire. You can blame my type A personality for these rules or the desire to be nostalgic or the fact that I like to be in charge. But I know there are traditions in your own households. Perhaps those traditions have changed over time, adapted to circumstances, and perhaps you have picked up new ones each year or perhaps this Christmas was different and difficult because some traditions couldn’t happen. That’s the problem with traditions, if we hold too tightly to them they get in the way of us enjoying ourselves. They take away from the meaning of the day, moment, event. The Old Testament is full of traditions that developed into the Law of Moses. Even the very first “Christmas” had traditions to follow.
The presentation of Jesus in Jerusalem is motivated by specific requirements, laws and traditions. But Luke is also very confused because in our Gospel text all these practices happen on one day, when in fact they would have happened over several different days. Of course the circumcision happened 8 days following Jesus’ birth. But the presentation should have happened that day as well while the purification would have happened 40 days following Jesus’ birth. Getting wrapped up in what Luke wrote and how wrong it is takes away from the true meaning of the story. However, it is rather interesting to know what laws it was that Luke is referring to.
The Torah has specific requirements for parental duties following the birth of all children but especially first born sons. Of course God claims the right to firstborn sons, based on the story of God passing over the firstborn Israelites in Egypt. There is also a strong link between Jesus and the story of Samuel. When Hannah, who had no children, prayed to God for a son, she vowed that if she had a son, she would give him to God. And indeed when Hannah bore Samuel she brought him to the temple and presented him and gave his life to God. So, when Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem they are in effect dedicating his life to God. The story thus sets the stage for Jesus’ life to be dedicated fully to his heavenly Father.
The purification of Jesus is motivated by specific laws in Leviticus. After a woman gives birth to a son she is impure for 40 days. At the end of that period she is to bring an offering to the temple, which the priest offers as a sacrifice, effecting her purification. Further in Exodus there are all kinds of statements regarding first borns, even all first born animals are sacrificed. First born children however, are brought to the temple not to be sacrificed by purified. According to the law of Moses, Jesus, being the firstborn, needed to be redeemed. But then, as will happen throughout Jesus’ life, things don’t quite happen according to the law or tradition.
At the moment when the parents would present their offering, Mary and Joseph are interrupted almost intercepted. Instead of a priest residing over the blessing we have two old but very wise people, Simeon and Anna. In our translation Luke writes, “When the time came” the Greek, kai hote eplethesan hemerai literally means the “days were fulfilled.” Fulfilment is the real message this morning. Simeon and Anna function as the people who realize that God has fulfilled a promise. They serve to embody the hopes of Israel and depict the fulfilment of those hopes.
When Simeon lays eyes on this child he cannot help himself but take the child in his arms, perhaps a startling moment for the parents, and he begins to sing! But he does not sing a lullaby as one might expect for a babe in arms but rather a revolutionary song. The shape and hopes of this song reflect the same content that has already been sung by Zechariah and Mary. For anyone in the music world it is as if Simeon’s song is a final coda. A final reminder, a poetic summing up of the events. But there is also a hint of melancholy.
The King James Version says it best, “Lord, now lettest though thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.” Simeon then gives prophetic voice to the realities about to face this child. This child will be both a stone upon which many will stumble and upon which many will find salvation. The child’s destiny will be one of radical transformation. Simeon is granted peace upon which he may see the Messiah but he also acknowledges the deep pain and great cost that it will bring.
Anna in her great age and deep piety recognizes Jesus for who he is and begins to praise God and speak about the child to all who are looking for redemption in Jerusalem. She has a great and important prophetic role in speaking God’s truth about the child’s future. She provides a clear model of what faithful behaviour looks like. Her patient waiting, her rejoicing at the good news and her deep desire to share that good news all seems to exemplify the proper response to the gospel.
Simeon and Anna play another key role. At this point in the story we know that Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zecharaiah and a few Shepherds know about Jesus’ true nature. These two seniors worshipping in the temple are the next to respond. I often hear sentiments like “we’re getting older and can’t do the things we used to” or “It’s too bad we’re all a little grey in hair” but this story of Simeon and Anna two elderly people tells me that we are never too old to worship God or to see the true nature of Christ among us. Never too old to praise God. They both model a faith that embraces Jesus fully, full of what such faith means and may cost but they also share it so that people of every age may respond. Anna and Simeon have waited patiently. They embrace Jesus as soon as they see him and joyously sing and bless this child. They tell the truth of who this child is to all who will listen. More than any traditions, laws or rules isn’t that what Christmas is all about. Rejoicing at God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Amen

December 28, 2014
Preacher:

Passage:

Luke 2:22-40

Service Type:

Christmas traditions run pretty high in my household. There are certain things that must be done, as a rule! Following the Christmas Eve service we must drive around looking at lights while listening to a radio drama of A Christmas Carol dating back to the 1960s. On Christmas day one must not look, open or touch the stockings until everyone is ready and after stockings one has strata, a bread, cheese and egg casserole for breakfast. A more recent but now just as important tradition is that we must skype with family members some time between the morning flurry of gifts and the main meal. Which interestingly enough, the dinner, in our house can be anything from a fancy fish to chili by the camp fire. You can blame my type A personality for these rules or the desire to be nostalgic or the fact that I like to be in charge. But I know there are traditions in your own households. Perhaps those traditions have changed over time, adapted to circumstances, and perhaps you have picked up new ones each year or perhaps this Christmas was different and difficult because some traditions couldn't happen. That's the problem with traditions, if we hold too tightly to them they get in the way of us enjoying ourselves. They take away from the meaning of the day, moment, event. The Old Testament is full of traditions that developed into the Law of Moses. Even the very first “Christmas” had traditions to follow.
The presentation of Jesus in Jerusalem is motivated by specific requirements, laws and traditions. But Luke is also very confused because in our Gospel text all these practices happen on one day, when in fact they would have happened over several different days. Of course the circumcision happened 8 days following Jesus' birth. But the presentation should have happened that day as well while the purification would have happened 40 days following Jesus' birth. Getting wrapped up in what Luke wrote and how wrong it is takes away from the true meaning of the story. However, it is rather interesting to know what laws it was that Luke is referring to.
The Torah has specific requirements for parental duties following the birth of all children but especially first born sons. Of course God claims the right to firstborn sons, based on the story of God passing over the firstborn Israelites in Egypt. There is also a strong link between Jesus and the story of Samuel. When Hannah, who had no children, prayed to God for a son, she vowed that if she had a son, she would give him to God. And indeed when Hannah bore Samuel she brought him to the temple and presented him and gave his life to God. So, when Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem they are in effect dedicating his life to God. The story thus sets the stage for Jesus' life to be dedicated fully to his heavenly Father.
The purification of Jesus is motivated by specific laws in Leviticus. After a woman gives birth to a son she is impure for 40 days. At the end of that period she is to bring an offering to the temple, which the priest offers as a sacrifice, effecting her purification. Further in Exodus there are all kinds of statements regarding first borns, even all first born animals are sacrificed. First born children however, are brought to the temple not to be sacrificed by purified. According to the law of Moses, Jesus, being the firstborn, needed to be redeemed. But then, as will happen throughout Jesus' life, things don't quite happen according to the law or tradition.
At the moment when the parents would present their offering, Mary and Joseph are interrupted almost intercepted. Instead of a priest residing over the blessing we have two old but very wise people, Simeon and Anna. In our translation Luke writes, “When the time came” the Greek, kai hote eplethesan hemerai literally means the “days were fulfilled.” Fulfilment is the real message this morning. Simeon and Anna function as the people who realize that God has fulfilled a promise. They serve to embody the hopes of Israel and depict the fulfilment of those hopes.
When Simeon lays eyes on this child he cannot help himself but take the child in his arms, perhaps a startling moment for the parents, and he begins to sing! But he does not sing a lullaby as one might expect for a babe in arms but rather a revolutionary song. The shape and hopes of this song reflect the same content that has already been sung by Zechariah and Mary. For anyone in the music world it is as if Simeon's song is a final coda. A final reminder, a poetic summing up of the events. But there is also a hint of melancholy.
The King James Version says it best, “Lord, now lettest though thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.” Simeon then gives prophetic voice to the realities about to face this child. This child will be both a stone upon which many will stumble and upon which many will find salvation. The child's destiny will be one of radical transformation. Simeon is granted peace upon which he may see the Messiah but he also acknowledges the deep pain and great cost that it will bring.
Anna in her great age and deep piety recognizes Jesus for who he is and begins to praise God and speak about the child to all who are looking for redemption in Jerusalem. She has a great and important prophetic role in speaking God's truth about the child's future. She provides a clear model of what faithful behaviour looks like. Her patient waiting, her rejoicing at the good news and her deep desire to share that good news all seems to exemplify the proper response to the gospel.
Simeon and Anna play another key role. At this point in the story we know that Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zecharaiah and a few Shepherds know about Jesus' true nature. These two seniors worshipping in the temple are the next to respond. I often hear sentiments like “we're getting older and can't do the things we used to” or “It's too bad we're all a little grey in hair” but this story of Simeon and Anna two elderly people tells me that we are never too old to worship God or to see the true nature of Christ among us. Never too old to praise God. They both model a faith that embraces Jesus fully, full of what such faith means and may cost but they also share it so that people of every age may respond. Anna and Simeon have waited patiently. They embrace Jesus as soon as they see him and joyously sing and bless this child. They tell the truth of who this child is to all who will listen. More than any traditions, laws or rules isn't that what Christmas is all about. Rejoicing at God's promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Amen

Bible Text: Luke 2:22-40 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

Christmas traditions run pretty high in my household. There are certain things that must be done, as a rule! Following the Christmas Eve service we must drive around looking at lights while listening to a radio drama of A Christmas Carol dating back to the 1960s. On Christmas day one must not look, open or touch the stockings until everyone is ready and after stockings one has strata, a bread, cheese and egg casserole for breakfast. A more recent but now just as important tradition is that we must skype with family members some time between the morning flurry of gifts and the main meal. Which interestingly enough, the dinner, in our house can be anything from a fancy fish to chili by the camp fire. You can blame my type A personality for these rules or the desire to be nostalgic or the fact that I like to be in charge. But I know there are traditions in your own households. Perhaps those traditions have changed over time, adapted to circumstances, and perhaps you have picked up new ones each year or perhaps this Christmas was different and difficult because some traditions couldn’t happen. That’s the problem with traditions, if we hold too tightly to them they get in the way of us enjoying ourselves. They take away from the meaning of the day, moment, event. The Old Testament is full of traditions that developed into the Law of Moses. Even the very first “Christmas” had traditions to follow.
The presentation of Jesus in Jerusalem is motivated by specific requirements, laws and traditions. But Luke is also very confused because in our Gospel text all these practices happen on one day, when in fact they would have happened over several different days. Of course the circumcision happened 8 days following Jesus’ birth. But the presentation should have happened that day as well while the purification would have happened 40 days following Jesus’ birth. Getting wrapped up in what Luke wrote and how wrong it is takes away from the true meaning of the story. However, it is rather interesting to know what laws it was that Luke is referring to.
The Torah has specific requirements for parental duties following the birth of all children but especially first born sons. Of course God claims the right to firstborn sons, based on the story of God passing over the firstborn Israelites in Egypt. There is also a strong link between Jesus and the story of Samuel. When Hannah, who had no children, prayed to God for a son, she vowed that if she had a son, she would give him to God. And indeed when Hannah bore Samuel she brought him to the temple and presented him and gave his life to God. So, when Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem they are in effect dedicating his life to God. The story thus sets the stage for Jesus’ life to be dedicated fully to his heavenly Father.
The purification of Jesus is motivated by specific laws in Leviticus. After a woman gives birth to a son she is impure for 40 days. At the end of that period she is to bring an offering to the temple, which the priest offers as a sacrifice, effecting her purification. Further in Exodus there are all kinds of statements regarding first borns, even all first born animals are sacrificed. First born children however, are brought to the temple not to be sacrificed by purified. According to the law of Moses, Jesus, being the firstborn, needed to be redeemed. But then, as will happen throughout Jesus’ life, things don’t quite happen according to the law or tradition.
At the moment when the parents would present their offering, Mary and Joseph are interrupted almost intercepted. Instead of a priest residing over the blessing we have two old but very wise people, Simeon and Anna. In our translation Luke writes, “When the time came” the Greek, kai hote eplethesan hemerai literally means the “days were fulfilled.” Fulfilment is the real message this morning. Simeon and Anna function as the people who realize that God has fulfilled a promise. They serve to embody the hopes of Israel and depict the fulfilment of those hopes.
When Simeon lays eyes on this child he cannot help himself but take the child in his arms, perhaps a startling moment for the parents, and he begins to sing! But he does not sing a lullaby as one might expect for a babe in arms but rather a revolutionary song. The shape and hopes of this song reflect the same content that has already been sung by Zechariah and Mary. For anyone in the music world it is as if Simeon’s song is a final coda. A final reminder, a poetic summing up of the events. But there is also a hint of melancholy.
The King James Version says it best, “Lord, now lettest though thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.” Simeon then gives prophetic voice to the realities about to face this child. This child will be both a stone upon which many will stumble and upon which many will find salvation. The child’s destiny will be one of radical transformation. Simeon is granted peace upon which he may see the Messiah but he also acknowledges the deep pain and great cost that it will bring.
Anna in her great age and deep piety recognizes Jesus for who he is and begins to praise God and speak about the child to all who are looking for redemption in Jerusalem. She has a great and important prophetic role in speaking God’s truth about the child’s future. She provides a clear model of what faithful behaviour looks like. Her patient waiting, her rejoicing at the good news and her deep desire to share that good news all seems to exemplify the proper response to the gospel.
Simeon and Anna play another key role. At this point in the story we know that Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zecharaiah and a few Shepherds know about Jesus’ true nature. These two seniors worshipping in the temple are the next to respond. I often hear sentiments like “we’re getting older and can’t do the things we used to” or “It’s too bad we’re all a little grey in hair” but this story of Simeon and Anna two elderly people tells me that we are never too old to worship God or to see the true nature of Christ among us. Never too old to praise God. They both model a faith that embraces Jesus fully, full of what such faith means and may cost but they also share it so that people of every age may respond. Anna and Simeon have waited patiently. They embrace Jesus as soon as they see him and joyously sing and bless this child. They tell the truth of who this child is to all who will listen. More than any traditions, laws or rules isn’t that what Christmas is all about. Rejoicing at God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Amen