The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
Dear Members and Friends of Saint Timothy’s,
We begin February with a great feast of the Church and we end February with a great season of the Church. “The Presentation of Christ in the Temple” that is commonly called “The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin” falls on February second. We will keep the feast on its proper day with a said service at noon. We will take liberties with the calendar and keep it again on Sunday, February fifth so we can have a Sunday celebration with the whole parish family. This is such a special feast it warrants a Sunday celebration. We will have a solemn procession, great hymns and we will have a guest preacher.
“The Presentation of Christ in the Temple” recalls from Scripture (Luke 2: 22-40) a very simple scene yet loaded with deep spiritual meaning. Keeping the ancient Jewish Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph must “present” or dedicate the Infant Jesus in the Temple. Jesus is their firstborn male child and therefore must be offered to the Lord. (Exodus 13:2; 22:29) This recalls the night before the Israelites were delivered from Egypt when the Angel of Death passed over the houses of the Egyptians and Israelites and spared all the firstborn male children of the Israelites. Since that time, in thanksgiving for the safe delivery of the male children, every male child must be taken to the Temple and dedicated to the Lord. This simple scene in the Temple where Joseph and Mary take the proper sacrifice, two turtle doves or two young pigeons, a new sacrifice is realized. It is Christ Himself, a sacrifice that will cover all sacrifices because Jesus Christ will take away the sins of the world. The aged Simeon in the Temple will recognize this because as Mary places Jesus in Simeon’s arms, Simeon knows and announces that he can now die in peace because he has now seen the Christ. Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel. (Luke 2: 29-32) The prophecy is set and is true. This child is the Savior of the world.
What a joy it will be to celebrate this feast together and we will have Father Craig O’Brien with us to preach on this occasion. Father O’Brien is known to many of us because he serves on the faculty of Saint Michael’s Conference. We have a number of parishioners on the staff of that week-long educational conference and we send a number of our high school and college-aged young people to the Conference every summer. Father O’Brien also brings a number of young people to the conference from his parish in Savannah, Georgia. This has allowed those of us involved with Saint Michael’s Conference to know him as the parishioners at Saint John’s Church in Savannah know him, as the thoughtful, gentle, knowledgeable and devoted priest that he is. We will all benefit from his words as he gives us the Word on The Feast of the Presentation.
Father O’Brien’s ministry as a parish priest has taken him far and wide. He is a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia and a graduate of The University of Kings College in that city. He studied theology at Regent College and Oxford University and has served parishes on Prince Edward Island, in Oklahoma, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Florida. He has been at Saint John’s Church, Savannah as Priest Associate since 2007. Saint John’s is a parish known to us because our own Father Carreker served there as Rector and Saint John’s is one of the great historic parishes of The Episcopal Church. Saint John’s is devoted too, to the exclusive use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It will be a delight to hear Father O’Brien and greet him following our celebration.
If the beginning of February brings us a great feast of the Church, the end of February brings us the great and solemn season of Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Wednesday, March 1st. We will observe the beginning of the season with three services on Ash Wednesday at 7:30 am, 10:30 am and 7:00 pm. We do well to make a right start of the forty days of Lent by attending one of these services, acknowledging our sins and confessing them, receiving the outward sign of our mortality by the imposition of ashes and receiving the grace of God in the Sacrament. We should take on certain Lenten disciplines and begin them on Ash Wednesday, so through the month of February we should be thinking and praying about what we will give up, take on, increase in spiritual practice and take on some spiritual reading through Lent. Then we can be ready to keep a holy Lent and begin on Ash Wednesday.
As has become our custom, and now really our habit, at Saint Timothy’s we will have a series of Lenten Soup Suppers beginning Wednesday, March 8th and for the next four Wednesdays in Lent. We gather at 6:30 in the Parish Hall and have a light supper of soup supplied by various groups in the parish. At 7:00 there will be a program that usually features a speaker who addresses an educational or spiritual matter. This year the talks will be around the theme of “A Christian’s Life”. All the talks will address matters of what a Christian should do while he is in this world. For example, topics such as prayer, a Christian’s responsibilities whose earthly life is nearing an end, how to prepare for Baptism, Marriage and Funerals, how to make a Rule of Life and discerning one’s Christian vocation will provide the substance of all the talks. Please place the Lenten Soup Suppers on your calendars and use them as a time of learning through the days and weeks of Lent.
My prayer for the parish is that we can keep a holy Lent together and have our hearts, minds, souls and bodies well prepared to walk with our Lord through the holiest days of Holy Week and then truly celebrate His Resurrection on Easter Day.