Like the first hearers of My Messenger, the first readers of the Letter to the Hebrews, are going through a time of trouble and persecution. They’re looking for some good news to help them stay focused on the path of promise, some assurances that they are indeed on their way to the beloved place where the Holy dwells. We do not have to be enthralled by death - to be motivated by fear -and we do not have to be like angels, to be perfected. The mercy we have as we try to live according to My Messenger and follow the teachings of Jesus is that we can trust the Holy understands our suffering. We are not alone or forsaken, even if we are worried about where we shall lay our heads. We have not been forgotten. The beloved place lies ahead.
Some call this day Candlemas and some call it the Presentation of the Lord. Luke 2:22-40 gives us the second name. There are, of course, all sorts of Biblical reasons to present our children to the Holy. One reason is to induct them formally into covenant with the Holy. Another is to remind ourselves of the blessing children are, blessings to tend, blessings who will grow us and challenge us in untold ways, and blessings who have their own unique gifts to give the world. But there is also laying down the path for this child that they may follow it all their days, turning to the most beloved place and finding joy and rest with the Holy One. When we begin important relationships, we usually begin with introductions. Taking our children to the sanctuary to dedicate them is an introduction – introducing them to how we honor and seek the Holy, introducing ourselves to the Holy again as a family, introducing ourselves to the next stage along the journey. Following My Messenger, who points back to the ways of living in the Torah, Luke tells us Mary and Joseph take Jesus to present him to the covenant of the Holy One.
Luke’s telling is yet another introduction to us who read and attend. Here is a child of amazing blessing. Here the family is following the ways set down in the Torah, the way pointed to by My Messenger. Here are additional introductions, to Simeon and to Anna, who otherwise show up in no other account by name. Anna is a prophet and she declares the prophecies fulfilled. Simeon announces that the prophecies are being fulfilled for everybody, no exceptions. Simeon is, in some ways, the earliest Universalist, finding Universalism the way of the Holy One. Everyone will come to the most beloved place spoken of in Psalm 84; all belong to Perfect and Abiding Love already.
Prayer: Beloved we seek you in the morning and in the evening. Let no hour pass without us seeking you out, for wherever you are, there is the home, the most beloved place, the most blessed of moments. Guide us all our days to tend to your path, set down by the law and the prophets and taught to us by your son Jesus. Remembering that you abide with all, let us turn and call all family, neighbor, friend. On this day of dedication, let us rededicate our own hearts to you, so that our words, our thoughts, our dreams, and our deeds are ever following your way of peace and steadfast love. Amen.