January 30, 2019 - The Presentation (tr.)
What are the places in your life that have that special, sacred timelessness, where childhood memories and lifelong dreams collapse into one moment, one spot? Maybe it is the home in which you grew up, the house by which you still drive your children and grandchildren whenever you are back in town, slowing down at the curb and taking in that long, deliberate breath as the gentle smile spreads on your face. Maybe it is that spot on the beach where thirty or forty or fifty years ago you played in the sand and jumped the waves with siblings and cousins. Maybe it is the restaurant where you went on your first date with your beloved or the hospital where your child was born or the summer camp where you grew into an adult one week at a time. For all of our lives, those places provide containers for some of our most treasured memories, and they hold them collected and concentrated long after we have left.
Sometimes these places say something to us, calling out from years ago, reminding us of who we were and who we still are. More often, they say something about us, providing a lens into our foundational characteristics, which may be why we veer off the highway for a thirty-minute detour just so we can show our children the place where we proposed to their mother. Sometimes those other people see the connection between place and person, glimpsing a deeper sense of who we are, but more often than not the detour is more of an inconvenience than a insight.
On Saturday, February 2, forty days after Christmas Day, we join Mary and Joseph and Simeon and Anna and baby Jesus in the Jerusalem temple, and, as the infant son is presented to the Lord, all of salvation history collapses into one moment. We see in that place and in that moment the love of God stretching throughout the millennia embodied in the one who joins heaven to earth presented to God and to us in the place where God's people knew that heaven and earth met. Even though it is Jesus' first time on the temple mount, it is a sort of homecoming because this is the place where Jewish tradition held that God's presence had dwelt for millennia. This is presumed to be the mountain on which Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac and on which Jacob dreamt of the ladder stretching from earth to heaven.
When the Incarnate One was brought into that holy place, those who looked for the redemption of God's people could see the truth unfolding even in that forty-day-old child. Others could not see what was happening. It must have been silly to them to see the old man grab the child out of his mother's arms and dance around the temple floor, singing and jumping as well as an old man could. "Master, you are now dismissing your servant in peace according to your promise because these eyes of mine have seen your salvation," he declared. Anna, too, could see what Simeon had seen, and she came forward, praising God and explaining to those who would listen what all the fuss was about. Jesus' parents were amazed at what was being said about their child, perhaps because, even though they had heard the truth from the angel and received the testimony of the shepherds, they were still trying to see fully what these two mighty prophets beheld in crystal-clear sight--God among us, God with us, God in us.
In Jesus Christ, God not only comes to us but makes God's home in us and makes our home in God. In the birth of God's Son, God's nature and human nature are united inseparably. We find in him our sacred place because in us God has made God's sacred place. In each of us--in you--the fullness of God is pleased to dwell so that you might dwell fully in God. Our home, therefore, is in God. Can you see it? Can you glimpse it? What does it take to come upon that sacred place that God has made in you in order to behold the truth of who you have been made to be?