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Faithlife Corporation

Journey of Faithfulness

Notes & Transcripts

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight – our incarnate Saviour – Amen

It comes as no surprise to anyone that today is known as the 1st Sunday after Christmas.

            A day that has become known as one of the “Low Sundays”

                        The Sunday after Christmas and after Easter are the two “Low                                            Sundays” of the year

                                    With all the excitement that the high holidays bring

                                                - The follow up to that, is a naturally a let down

                                                            - A time of recuperation

This year with both Christmas and New Year’s day landing on Sunday

            (Something that hasn’t happened since the year 2006)

                        The build up and the excitement was magnified

                                    Here at Farringdon last week in 16 hour period there were 3 services

It is certainly understandable that the Sunday following that will be a Low Sunday

But it is precisely at these “low days” of the year where how you live out your life in faith really characterize your “relationship with Christ” - our Lord and Saviour

            These are the days of character building

                        With watching our Canadian boys in the World Junior Hockey tournament,

I am reminded of a billboard that I used to pass by most days that said

                                                6am practices lead to 7pm games

 

Now of course we are not “competing”, but we are training

            We are conditioning - We are journeying along a path with a goal in vision

                        That goal is a “life in Christ”

                                    And the vision is for both the journey and the outcome

                                                As it is written in the Lord’s prayer

                                                “on earth - as it is in heaven”

The readings for the day are ideal for this particular day and this time of the year

            The time of transitioning from one year to the next

But also the first Sunday after we celebrate the incarnation - God coming as Emmanuel - God with us

And of course today being January 1st – we look forward to the beginning of a New Year

For some, it is a time of looking back over the year and making commitments or resolutions for how the upcoming year will begin

                        It is certainly a time when we think about Beginnings and endings

                                    - and how we will live… “all the life in the middle”

Our Gospel reading from Luke today tells part of the story of the greatest gift the world has ever seen

            The miracle baby - Jesus - born of a virgin

                        Tells the story of how Mary and Joseph brought their baby to temple

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)

This is a story of two righteous devout young parents are fulfilling the obligations of their faith

            It is about doing the work of faithfulness – when no one is watching

                        They haven’t come with all their family in a moment of triumphal celebration

                                    Come to the temple to show off their baby

                                                No – they have come quietly, faithfully – righteously

Like all who are gathered here today – on this Low Sunday

Because your faith is about more than the big celebrations of the High Holy-days – it is about an ongoing journey of faithfulness and righteousness

Being right with God – being in a relationship with the Lord, the Lord God that wants ‘all of us’ and in return gives His one and only Son – to come into this world, to teach, to heal, to die - to make us at one with God – and then offer us that salvation which we respond in faithfulness

Righteousness means coming out on days that many others write off as easy days to miss – because the church ‘thing’ has been done this season

The entire gospel of Luke is structured as a journey,

As Jesus travels from Galilee to Jerusalem in important stages in His life

                        As a Baby - then young adult - finally His adult ministry

Luke arranged the material to communicate his message.

      This suggests that the journey in Luke is more than just a physical journey,

            And the setting is more than geographical.

There are also two other important characters in the story that can be overlooked

      After-all they are the type of people that had been overlooked most of their own lives

            Much like this ‘low’ day in the Christian calendar

One – Simeon, was a very old man – and the way in which Luke tells of Simeon’s age we have the impression that he was well past the usual age in which God calls people home

Simeon is described as righteous and devout and had some role in the temple that he should be there as Mary and Joseph presented their baby

To this man a divine vision was giving

It is the vision to witness and testify to the person that is the Messiah

Now I don’t know about you – but I have met a lot of people in my life that don’t believe in God

      And the reason that many of them give is that God is distant to them

            They have never met God – so why should they believe in Him

If they were given proof of God – if they were to see with their own eyes – then they believe

Well, today we hear the story of a very old man, which is promised by God that he will not die before seeing the Messiah

Today we have the beautiful image of a righteous, faithful ‘should be dead by now’ old man –

      Singing God’s praises in the temple… because in the baby Jesus – this infant child

            He has seen the fulfillment of God’s faithfulness with humanity

Simeon is declaring to this quiet unassuming righteous young parents, and for all to hear in the temple, that his life’s purpose in being completed in that moment

            Listen to his wonder-filled testimony and witness

29“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-31)

In his arms is a baby – but Simeon is blessed by the Holy Spirit to declare Jesus as:

      Salvation – light for revelation for some – and glory for others

Simeon, the faithful – Simeon the man that has been witness to more in Jerusalem than anyone can remember – often overlooked because he is always there, waiting

To this one member of humanity – God has clearly answered the doubters with proof seen by his very own eyes

The second overlooked character of faithfulness is the prophet Anna

Now Anna too was very old – and also very faithful to the temple – it is written that she was always there – day and night – that she never left the temple

Anna by being a female prophet, and by being there all the time would have blended into the woodwork

Until this day…

            As one tuned in to God’s frequency, if you like – as a prophet

On this day when she sees God’s hand in the baby Jesus – she does what a prophet is called to do – she declares God

38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38)

Mary and Joseph came to do their righteous duty by presenting their child to be purified under the Law of Moses

            And to their amazement – they – like us – are presented with the reality of the Incarnation

To each of is given the greatest gift the world has ever seen – it is the gift from God our Father to all of humanity – it is His one and only Son into the world to be our Saviour

To each and every one of us – doubter alongside the faithfully obedient

To all – our journey with Jesus is affirmed by the unlikely characters of Simeon and Anna  

Today, this Low Sunday – but character building Sunday - St. Paul in the letter to the Galatians praises God and writes:

When in the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (Galatians 4:4-5)

It means that God reveals His heart… and that heart is for us to be engrafted

            To be made, not merely a as part of creation – but, as part of the Family

We do not have some distance creator that has built us and then set us on our way, some spy in the sky…

but we have a God that desires to be called “Abba! Father!”

And like Simeon and Anna before us – we before we are called home to the Lord

Can declare worship and praises to the one that loved us so much – that is Our Father in Heaven

 

And so today, this beginning of the New Year, new month and ‘we’ the new creation of God

On this day of faithful journeying with the Lord – Father, Son and Holy Spirit

As we join in together in Communion with all gathered and with God in the Thanksgiving feast that we will share together

Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which indeed we were called in the one body. And be thankful - Amen

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