Have you read missionary Sheila Scorziello’s beautiful blog about the country of Italy where she lives, and the culture and people she loves? I recently discovered her corner of WordPress, and I am just so delighted to meet her. Her writing just draws one in.
She wrote a post sharing how Italians celebrate February 2nd, as opposed to the American “Ground Hog Day”. They call it Candlemas Day. She wrote,
“Candlemas, in many Christian traditions, marks the presentation of the Christ child in the temple. It is also the day when many take their candles to the church for the minister to bless. Using these blessed candles throughout the year serves as a reminder that Christ is the light of the world.”
As I thought about it, I had to do the math… if Christ was born on December 25th, and in keeping with Levitical tradition, she would have gone with Joseph to the temple for purification rituals 40 days after Christ’s birth. This would have fallen around February 3rd. Mary and Joseph brought Jesus with them to the temple, as the first born child was to be set aside to the Lord.
The Bible introduces us to some beautiful people there at the temple that day. Simeon, an old man and a prophet, had been told by the Spirit of the Lord that he would not die until he laid eyes on God’s promised one. He recognized Jesus, and taking the baby in his arms, he blessed the Lord, saying,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph also.
Anna, a prophetess was also at the temple that day, as she always was, worshipping with fasting and prayer. Scripture says she came up at that very hour and began giving thanks to God, speaking about him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
After this, when Mary and Joseph had completed what was required of them at the temple, they returned home. Luke chapter 2 tells of all this, and in verse 40 we are told that Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.
I know I’m random, but all of this got me to think about the fact that this account is one of the very few we have about Christ as a child. Only one other is recorded. Most of what we know of Jesus’s life begins when he started his ministry around age 30. So that leaves 10,950 days of his life that are not recorded, and yet, we know that the baby grew to be a boy, shared a home and meals and memories with family, had brothers who didn’t always like him, went to school and followed all of the traditions that every Jewish boy was expected to observe. He had the same kind of relationships we have. He faced the same temptations we face. Day after day, year after year, he fulfilled, step by step, every iota required to grow up into the man who ministered, died and rose again on our behalf.
Every second, Jesus was faithful. Not only at the end, but every moment of His life that carried Him to the end.
Every moment, God with us…
Precious babe, bearer of hope…
Growing bigger, audacious love….
Son of God, strong and wise and boldly humble…
Light of the world, extinguished on a cross to be ignited in the hearts of men and women across the world… of a kingdom not built with hands or won with swords, but on bowed knees, bent wills, and by the power of the Spirit.
Children of God, the light of the world (Christ) lives in us. May we bear His brilliance faithfully and authentically in the low and mundane moments of life as well as the moments that crescendo into seasons of fulfillment, as we see God’s plans unfold in miraculous, because it takes all of the moments to hasten the return of Christ.
It takes all of the moments to bear hope to a helpless world.
It takes all of the moments to love audaciously.
It takes all of the moments to testify loudly.
And it takes all of us. What a privilege to be part of God’s plans.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galations 6:9-10