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.

16 comments:

  1. Wonderful insight that Simeon's and Anna's lives looked similar until the end. Never thought about that. Good to know!

    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet - they seemed to, but then, as Floss pointed out below, we dont really know if Simeon was elderly - I assume he was. Anyway, the point i wanted to make was that God has different pans for each of us, and i was feeling a bit helpless after hearing such a fire and brimstone type of sermon xx

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  2. I too struggle with questions like that. I try and live each day, not taking a moment for granted, but I am a long way from being ready to leave this earth.
    I hope you are having a lovely Sunday.

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  3. Totally with you and Anna! Looking forward to sharing with you on a Sunday.

    Happy Monday to you

    San xx

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  4. My slightly irreverent take: Simeon is satisfied and dies happy. Anna is inspired and goes out to spread the word. Now that's a woman for you! ;)

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    1. Yes - it sounds right laurie. I just wish a wee bit more had been made of that x

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  5. I struggle with sermons like that too (especially if they involve thundering). But I love your insights here - Anna has always been one of my favourite people in the Bible.

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    1. I'm afraid there has been quite a lot of thundering from our visiting preachers. It has its place, but they go away and leave us all gasping for breath! I like Joanna a lot xx

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  6. Very interesting -thanks! In fact, our sermon on this reading mentioned that Simeon is only assumed to be old! It's not mentioned in the Bible, is it? He may have been saying he could die in peace whenever that happened, rather than ASAP...

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    1. That's true, Floss - it isnt even mentioned that he is old at all! I think it was just that the preacher picked up of that aspect, and left us feeling a bit hopeless. This was my attempt to find some hope in his message xx

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  7. Hi Jacqui

    i think what it means is that we should ask ourselves the question 'are we ready to die' and see what the response is. It teaches us something about how we are living our lives in this moment. I was asked the question once by a monk who was a dear friend. My answer was that i am packed and ready to go. I didn't particularly want to die at that moment or in the next few years but I knew that whenever it happened I would be happy within myself and my life - free to depart without fear of what lies beyond. We musn't dwell on tidying up our lives, sorting out all the loose ends and doing all the things we wanted to do - they are all so insignificant.

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    1. Thank you - your response has really helped me xxx

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  8. Jacqui, I have thought about this post for days! I remember once being very, very scared on an airplane (I am a nervous flyer) and deciding that I really was ready to die if that was God's will. That was before I had children, and now I am definitely determined to stay on this earth as long as I possibly can - if that's God's will. I think that, as the comment above says, the question can be a valuable one to ponder. But as with so much in life, it's the intent behind how the words that makes such a difference. I tend to switch off when harangued by people who assume I never give such things any reflection, when in fact I do, sometimes on a daily basis. Good for you to make something more positive from the experience.

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    1. Thanks Christine - yes the comment above was very useful. But yes - its a particular brand of muscular Christianity that i find very challenging, and, in fact i am a very reflective person and do think about these thing. I think that every one witting in our pews just now are believers - its preaching to the converted and we need encouraging and uplifting xx

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