Sunday, January 12, 2014
Sunday reflection: Continuing
I am still feeling the excitement and wonder of my Advent Journey, and was reminded by today's Church sermon not to tuck the Baby back into the Manger for a few months, then nail Him up on the Cross at Easter. So, with that in mind, I hope to continue my spiritual walk here. Each Sunday, all being well, I will reflect on some aspect of my faith. It most likely will be prompted by the message I hear from the pulpit, but God speaks to us in many ways, so it will be interesting to see where I go with it. I feel the need to do this as a way of understanding what these sermons mean for me and my personal journey. The Church I attend has been without a Minister for well over a year now, and we have had many visiting speakers over the months - some have been ordained clergy, and others are lay preachers. The variety of subject and delivery style of the sermons has been interesting and refreshing, and I have learned many things, but, after the service, the preacher usually has to rush off - often not staying for the after church fellowship. I am missing a way of consolidating what I have received.
Today, we heard from Luke 2. 22-40, where Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the temple to be consecrated to The Lord. There they meet Simeon, who had been promised by God that he would not die until he had seen the Saviour, and also, Anna, the Prophetess. The sermon focussed mostly on the obedience of Mary and Joseph in obeying the Law, and the faith of Simeon, who was ready to die after he had seen the promised Redeemer. "Let me ask you", thundered the preacher, as he reached the end of his message, "Are you ready to die? I am... and some of you sitting here will die this year. Are you ready?"
I struggle with sermons like that. Now - I don't mind being challenged, and I think that we do need to wrestle with difficult concepts, but, as part of a dwindling and struggling congregation, with no consistent Pastoral care, I felt my heart sink. I also felt guilty, because - actually, I am not ready to die just yet. I know it will be up to God when it happens, but I am not looking for it right now. And - Simeon was an old man and had lived a good and devout and long life, so he had probably accomplished many things before he saw Jesus. But, with no Minister to follow these thoughts up with, I was left floundering. Luckily I have a wise husband, and between us, over lunch, we made what we could out of this message.
There is another part to this story too, which was not really addressed, but that was the story of the elderly Anna. She is described as a Prophetess, who had lived in the Temple, praying and fasting since her widowhood. She came up to the Holy Family as Simeon took the Child in his arms, and she too, recognised him as the Saviour. Anna wasn't ready to die, though. Nope - she had work to do and went straight out and began telling others that the Redeemer had come - the first person to publicly proclaim that the Kingdom was at hand.
We don't know how out lives will pan out - only God does. His plans for Simeon and Anna, while they may have looked similar for decades, over their lives, differed in the end. In witnessing for Jesus, Anna was preparing those who heard, for Life, and I am ready for that.