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And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” – Luke 2:22-35
It used to be said that the most segregated hour of the week was Sunday morning. White folks when to their churches. Black folks went to their churches. Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Native Americans: each went to their own worship services. And each had their own unique way of worshiping. There are exceptions to this today. Some churches have broken the ethnic/cultural barriers. Some have managed to gather a diverse group of people around the Word of God in worship of the One who came for Jew and Gentile alike. For slave and free, male and female, red and yellow, black and white as the song goes.
But it’s easy to overlook just how radical this notion really is: Jesus came not just for this small and insignificant, beleaguered and oppressed nation of people. And that out of that nation came the Savior of the world. And the Savior of the world, coming from the Jewish people came for gentiles as well as Jews.
So radical was this idea that there is an entire chapter devoted to the issue in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. This was radical. That a nation would share its god with other nations! That the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be the God of Greeks and Jews alike, not to mention people from all over the world. Nearly unthinkable.
Two things come to my mind in light of this. First of all, I need to remember that I have no claim on God, on the Christian faith, or a prominent or favored place in the warp and woof of the Church of God, the Communion of Saints, the one holy Christian [little c-catholic] church, the sum total of all true believers in Christ in heaven and on earth. I am one of many, and I need to be quite aware of the privilege of being part of that fellowship – more so than I need to be sitting in judgment on others’ place in the kingdom of God.
Secondly, I need no other credential than faith in Jesus to have a place in the Church of God, the Communion of Saints, the one holy Christian [little c-catholic] church, the sum total of all true believers in Christ in heaven and on earth. Jesus is the light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of God’s people Israel. And I’m with him. He came for me and all sinners.
Sometimes this truth is more precious than others. Right now, it is a precious bit of good news for me. I belong to Jesus. I’m part of his church. And I thank God for that and rejoice in the fellowship of all the redeemed – including you, dear reader.