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The Presentation

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Sermon: 

Hello. My name is Jonathan Kimber, and I’m the Director of Ministry and Discipleship in the Diocese.

On the 40th day after Jesus birth, we read of how he was brought to the temple in Jerusalem, to be presented to the Lord God. And so we marked, either on February 2nd, or on a nearby Sunday, what we call The Feast of the Presentation. And I’d like to start by reflecting on that idea of presenting, of presentation. I wonder what it conjures up for you.

Perhaps it’s an image of a TV presenter. Typically somebody articulate, polished, presentable. Somebody who can give a good impression. Perhaps somebody who can hype up whatever is going to be shared, who can make people feel good about it, who can put it in a good light.

Conversely, perhaps I think of not being presentable - not being considered good enough. Perhaps I fall short because of how I look, or my lack of skill, or my mistakes.

Jesus was presented before God, not because he was God’s only son, but because he was a baby, 40 days old. Not because he was divine, but because of his humanity.

He was presented before God – he was simply made present before God.

And so God invites us, not to give a good impression, not to hide our flaws or hype up our achievements, not to be polished or articulate before him. God invites us simply to be present.

In one sense, being present is the simplest thing in the world. And yet, it can also be the most difficult. I wonder what can get in the way of us being present – with God, and with others? Perhaps thoughts and distractions that flit across our minds. Perhaps a desire to impress, or fear of being a disappointment. God invites us to lay down those fears and desires, and simply to be present.

Within the old Testament, when God called somebody, the ideal response was ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Hebrew literally means, behold me. It’s a response without pretence. This is me - no better, no worse, no different. There’s no point in hiding. Here I am, Lord. How would it feel, I wonder, to be simply present before God without pretence?

As Jesus is presented in the temple, simply as he is, Anna and Simeon meet with him and insight is shared. New truths are revealed. Truths of joy, and also of sorrow to come. Not hyped, not polished, not tidied up to make them look attractive. But the revealing of new insight.

As we set aside our defences and our pretences, that can make space for the receiving of new insight from God. We may see ourselves more clearly. We may understand God in a fresh way. We may come to view others in a new light.

As we continue to learn to be present before God, perhaps the most profound insight is summarised in the other name that Jesus carries – the name of Immanuel. That name means God with us.

The more we are able simply to be present with God, the more it sinks in that God is present with us. God’s presence is without exception or variation. God is with us whether or not we can feel it. God simply does not know how to be absent. Our presence is no deterrent for God. The truth about me is not offputting for him. He meets my truth with his grace, and his grace helps me see my truth more fully. Seeing his grace expands my own capacity for grace – and my ability to be present, with myself, with God and with others.

So, this Feast of the Presentation, let’s set aside pretence, let’s set aside defensiveness. Let’s be present before God, and let God be present for us, around us, and at the very core of our being.

Questions:

  1. Can you think of a time when someone was simply and helpfully present with you? How was that?
  2. What do you find helps you simply be present before God?

 

 

Page last updated: Monday 24th January 2022 7:59 AM
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