We place a great deal of value on traditions. Most of us likely experienced traditions both silly and serious from our families of origin. Perhaps it was a particular recipe or a special location. Perhaps it was a family joke or an affectionate nickname. In our life of faith, we highly value traditions as well. Sometimes a favorite hymn or ritual brings a spiritual connection for us. These traditions are important because they help to root us in an identity.
The text for Sunday is a journey of traditions. Jesus is taken to be presented at the temple, they offer a sacrifice, and a priest and a prophet revel at Jesus’ presence. This remarkable series of events must have been both bewildering and wonderful! And in this celebration of tradition, Jesus’ identity is claimed and proclaimed.
Luke 2:22-40 (CEB)
22When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
Consider these questions:
- What is a familiar tradition of your family or community? Is it a tradition that is more serious? Is it funny? What’s the story around this tradition? How have do you honor this tradition now?
- What is a familiar tradition that you value as a person of faith? What moves you spiritually about this tradition? Is it something we do here at PB UMC?
I’m wondering about the timing of when the Holy Family fled to Egypt compared to this story of Jesus’ consecration while they lived in Nazareth. Is this a case where the Bible has conflicting stories from different points of view? Or maybe their exile in Egypt was really short?