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We the people of Glen Rhodes United Church, are determined that our life together will be fully inclusive for people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, differing abilities, ethnic origins and economic circumstances. Therefore, we hope that God will work in us so that we will be a sensitive congregation, willing to share our faith and gifts in language and worship, in the life and work of our church and wherever God calls us to do justice in the wider community, with compassion, fun and laughter

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Homily - Glen Rhodes United Church January 1, 2012

The Rev.  Malcolm Spencer


At the temple

We read today the presentation of Jesus in the temple and the events following his circumcision and information on the customs of what sacrifices were offered for a first born male. Luke was very concerned that Jesus had all the appropriate rituals for Jewish males at that time. The story would be rather colourless - a devout young couple doing what was expected of them and this would have been the entire story but two older persons change the picture and add the entire colour.

First we meet Simeon and he is introduced as a devout man who has struggled a long time with his yearning, shared by many that the Roman occupation was not healthy for the country and not respectful of the native Jewish population. Of course by the time Luke wrote this gospel rebellions had been breaking out and ruthlessly put down. Simeon was keen on the welfare of the city and we are further told he was moved by the Spirit to go to the temple that day. Often we wander into places we never planned to go but they seem to turn out to be the best places to be. Jean Vanier got out of the Navy and had to work out what he wanted, as a son of George Vanier famous Canadian General and our Governor General at one time, he was expected to go into industry or something like that. He was moved spiritually at the time and sought out Fr. Philippe in Paris as a spiritual director – a year later they put together L’Arche and the rest was history.

Helen Keller was led to a therapist and someone else to leave a life of seclusion as a blind and deaf person and venture out and become famous even political – few people knew that she watched by the FBI for many years for her support of workers movements.

Like Simeon they trusted that vision of new life to come. Simeon was older than many men who lived at the time and looked for a sign to assure his hope and spotting Jesus he takes the baby in his arms and sings this beautiful song. We call it by the first words in Latin: the Nunc dimittis.

Here rendered in the new living translation:
Sovereign Lord now let your servant die in peace
As you have promised
I have seen your salvation
Which you have prepared for all people
A light to reveal God to the nations
And the glory of your people Israel

He blessed the family and spoke to Mary about how difficult the road may be for promising a sword that will pierce her soul.

Here we wonder why this is said to a young woman but one of the values of older people in society is that they often can talk easily about issues in life than younger people because they know that there is survival.

He introduces the hope and struggle it would be for this boy of promise and he sums up the mission of Jesus – he feels now he can die in hope that the messiah has come.

After that we meet the widow Anna who has been praying in the temple and fasting and doing all the things to give her a devout soul but whom also yearned for a sign of hope for a new opportunity for the people - she also recognized who Jesus was and she also looked for the redemption and consolation of Jerusalem. She was 84 and full of energy, she wanted to tell everyone who could hear about the hope she had found and the good news of the coming of the Saviour. She was like many older women who take on religious duties and social concerns and seemed to have enthusiasm about the activity and are open to hope for the new. I was always amazed at the Raging Gammas phenomenon in Canada who took and still take on social issues even on street corners and rallies where they are the by far the oldest but not the least enthusiastic folk. Jesus and his parents were greeted by two seniors who yearned for a better world. They saw this would happen with Jesus. For us we learn from these seniors some lessons for our lives of faith. Perhaps we can take some of these on our New Year’s Resolutions for 2012.

First can we open ourselves to wander some to places where we might find hope and find encouragement whether by choice of chance and be more open to the Spirit in our lives and secondly can we show that enthusiasm for our faith and hope we know to help those who have little faith or little hope.

Look closely at these two lives Anna and Simeon and how they found Christ, how do recognize the signs of Jesus in our lives?

A blessing for the New Year and may it be a Happy new Year.

Thank you loving God for the gift of yourself at Christmas and may we look to know you better and love you more in the coming calendar year and realise how near you are to us and in eyes and heart of those around us.  In Jesus Name we pray, Amen

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