Jesus first time at the Temple

Sunday is Candlemas, the time where Jesus was presented at the temple.

This is one of those times where we are given a good description of one of the events in Jesus life. Luke 2:21-38, and the background and context are as valuable as the story itself.

The reason they were there is out of obedience to the Mosaic law which says that women must be purified 40 days after the birth of a boy. (leviticus 2-12) as they are ceremonially unclean. Also every firstborn male must be consecrated to the lord.

Joseph and Mary intended to give two doves as sacrifices, and this is significant as these were the offerings of the poor.

This points also to the idea that the wise men had not yet arrived as they went back to Nazareth.

When they got to the temple a man called Simeon, who had the holy spirit took the baby from their arms.

It had been revealed to Simeon by god, that he would not die before he met the messiah.

He had been “moved” by the spirit to go to the temple courts that day.

We don’t know much about Simeon, but that description proves he had a close relationship with God.

Close enough to hear his call, and listen.
Close enough to go where he was told,
Close enough to know what he had seen, the moment he saw it.

We have years of Christianity, and the full story, he had two very poor people holding a small baby, following rites that everyone at that time followed.

Therefore his certainty, and the precision of his next two statements show god talking through him that day.

His first statement was to thank the lord, for keeping his promise…
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

This was quite a statement, Keep in mind that Simeon was a Jew and as we know today, most Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

Also saying this messiah was to be for the gentiles too would have been quite stirring. Quite a thing to say about the baby of a carpenter from a small unregarded town.

His Second statement is also prophetic and as we know the story of Jesus in full we can see he is saying the life Jesus will lead…

“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,

So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

I always feel the last lines are Simeon talking to YOU and ME through the ages as Jesus does reveal the truth of the only currency god cares about, your heart and that truth is a sword that pierces our soul.

This wasn’t the last encounter that day…

They then encountered Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old. The Tribe of Asher, was one of the 8 tribes of Israel , descended from the 8th son of Joshua. So she had excellent lineage going all the way back to Abraham. She was very old in her 80’s and very devout spending every day in the temple praising god.

She I think would have been a well respected member of the community.

She then also came up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

She too, although she probably had the commotion caused by Simeon as a steer, also had Jesus revealed as the Messiah by gods revelation to her.

So between Simeon and Anna , our lords trip to the temple was eventful.

It shows God was alive in the hearts of the devout, that they like us were waiting for him to come.

Simeon prophesied, and Anna came to bear witness.

Mary and Joseph went back to Nazareth, and the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

This is the last we hear of Jesus until he is old enough to debate at the temple age 12, and amaze those he met.

This is the story we share together on Sunday.

10:30 St Marys

How to Introduce yourself.

When we first meet someone we say something like,
“Hi my names Mike, what’s yours?”, and all things being well they say their name and off we go.

Jesus doesn’t take that route, when he first encounters two of Johns Disciples, they come up to him and his opening line is to look at them and ask….

What are you looking for?

Putting my sales hat on that is such a perfect line. See it knocks your audience off kilter, announces this isn’t going to be a boring conversation that follows the norm, and states that this person is interesting and should be listened to.

Putting my more empathetic hat on, I suspect they the had same  reaction we all have when we meet first Jesus. Something asleep in us, wakes,stirs and from that slightly off kilter place a layer deeper than we know says…

I don’t know, but I know your IT.

You CAN be moral and Free as a Humanist, but its a lot harder.

I was at a new years Eucharist today when a penny that has been haunting me for some while (in certain ways years) fell into place.

For a while, I would probably be have been considered a humanist, that is believing in the moral foundation of Jesus message but not in much else.

A lot of atheistic philosophy falls into that same area.

One thought is that freedom can only be gained when we gain control of our ID, our basest instincts.

We are slaves to ourselves until we gain control of ourselves.
So freedom is gained by control from ourselves.

Its all on us.

This plays into the secular idea that we as a species can be moral without a god.

In some very inconsistent patchy way we can.

Then today during eucharist my pastor,  paraphrased romans 8:15 – 16

“Abba,  which means father, takes us by the holy spirit, from slave to a son.”

So humanism teaches us we move from immorality and captive to our base emotions and drive to freedom and morality by means of our own self will.

In Christianity we move from immorality to being born again as a child of god.

Him being our father, who keeps his flock safe, shows them direction, correction, love and attention.

You see, We are under the care of our father, and he looks after you as a father should look after his children.

We are not alone, separate, exposed.

We must step towards being in his flock, but once in place we are not alone.

We know we cant do it alone, he knows that too.

His spirit and message and the body of the church constantly reminds, corrects and directs our lives.

Set against that the bar is set much higher, and the demands greater.

But so are the rewards for trying.

Christian Shorts

On Loving each other?
You know, Jesus didn’t say love one another apart from XXX or YYY. He said love your  enemies, he asked us to always show love in the face of anger.

I hate name calling and people putting muslim that, or jewish this, arab that.

George Bernard Shaw famously said, “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is  superior to all others because you were born in it.”

We have to see ourselves as his children and not children of any country or political party.

We as a faith have to rise above human titles, and name calling  or stop calling our-self


We have to work for peace, and that means even the people who hurt us.

We have to see our sins, the ones we commit as a person, country, society, and culture

before we can deride another.

Our’s is not to judge, ours is to love and HE judges.
We do not have the equipment.


Telling My Wife (march 2014)

When I told my wife about becoming a Christian she listened to my story very patiently.

At the end of the story she asked me what next

I told her that is the point I no longer have to worry about that

I do know one thing I am already a better man a better husband and a nicer person.

I feel happier more focused an calmer

I said my internal landscape had changed for the better

Best decision I ever made

God in a Box

God in a Box

Try to imagine a million things.   We can’t do it, our brains can’t handle such numbers. There’s a lot of things we can’t really get our heads around, the size of the planet, the levels of deforestation, the numbers of planets in the galaxy etc. How we cope with those levels of things is to try and put them in a box. Things that are too big for us, too scary,  we simply limit in our heads.

Sometimes we do this as a safety mechanism, other times because our limited senses just reach the limits of design.  We experience a very limited range of light, sound, smell etc.

In the next few days we are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  A god who came down to our level, so that we can react and understand him within the limits of our ability.  See, he knows us, better than we know ourselves and so he knew had to come down to our level, to make himself as understood as we can possibly manage.  He kept his lessons on the whole remarkably simple, encapsulated them in sentences that we can cope with.  Parable’s based on the human condition explaining profound concepts or soundbites any politician would die for.

That’s him relating to us, pitching it perfectly as you would expect. However when we try to imagine him we place the same limits on him as he placed on himself. His by design, ours by accident.

I like social media, and on Christian websites I see debate’s on the bible about how it was created, I see Christians debate about the relative merits of one religion over another. The process of ordaining women bishops, non-heterosexual relationships, marriage. How literal we should take the bible, versus interpreting from the Greek and Hebrew.  How valid these texts are when they were made over such a long period of time, creationism, evolution etc.

There is a constant between these debates as I see them. We want god in a box, limited by our understanding of love, time, space, the current politically correct position, our understanding of the scripture as seen through the prism of this era’s accepted norms.

Myself, I have been to different types of churches and felt god in that room, seen gay relationships that would be the envy of some. Been to countries that we demonise and found kind caring people.
Seen so many debates limited by this week’s version of the theories of time space and god’s ability.

Where all these idea’s end up are limited, fallible people using the limits they have to judge an infallible unlimited god that we simply cannot understand.

That should be our starting point for all of the debates that surround our faith.

He knew our limits and so he made it simple for us.  He said, love one another as you love yourself.   I didn’t see any exceptions or caveats to that.  Then he said most importantly “Do Not Judge”

Why, because a god we cannot “put in a box” , transcends all of that and only he has the ability to weigh a man’s heart, he is unlimited we are not.  So gay straight, Muslim, catholic, Anglican, evolution, creation. We are told that he knows our hearts and that is what we will be judged on by him. Only, our Unlimited, unknowable, too big for any box, god can judge us. We simply (ashe knew we can only cope with simple) have the job of loving one another.

On his most important day of the year, isn’t that the basic message?

Prayer for a Difficult Day

Waking up to what could be a very hard or difficult day, try saying this?

Dear lord please be with me today and look after me.

Your will not mine, and I place my day in your hands.
(But if you could see your way clear?)

Thank you for looking after me (even when I dont know it)

In Jesus name

If you actually do give your day to him, It never fails to be better than your best idea if how that day could go.

Try it – let me know?

Your Deeds are judged, the person is not (at least by us).

“Judge Not” does not mean every type of action or behavior is free to all without being judged as wrong. Only a society that eschews any type of control would think that.

In the secular world being free from judgement is a right secured by relativism.
In the real world we need to judge and correct and do so with love guided by a steadfast moral code.

You see where what “you” want and “yourself” is the foremost part of your world. If you judge yourself on your own moral code as opposed to following a code set down through millennia then those two become intertwined where self is everything. How I behave is how I am, as opposed to simply something I did.

Judging the deed becomes judging the person.

Never judge the person only the deed.
The person is no better nor worse than you and a sinner like everyone.
The deed may be a sin. We can judge that.

Between Isaiah 40 and Psalm 139 you find out how god see’s us and wants US to see HIM

Between Isaiah 40 and psalm 139 you know small we are ,how well he knows us, and yet despite our weakness and frailty, how much he loves us,and how we should try to love him,

Isaiah 40

God is only interested in your heart.

There is so much time spent on the minutiae of faith and actually if you read all of the great writers on faith, and the man himself you realise that he is only interested in our “heart”.

St Augustine says “Narrow is the mansion of my soul.
Enlarge it that you may enter in.”

Solzhenitsyn says it better than me.

Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts.

And Jeremiah agrees.

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

“Of course if we let him in, he can change our heart because as Solzhenitsyn says.

This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.”

We have him to help deliver us from evil, for that was his sole purpose.

He can move that oscillation, gather the dial and change us permanently through his grace.

We are not Pharisee’s we did not plant the cross but picked it up

There are two main problems with how the world see’s us today

The secular world basically thinks religious people are pharisee’s.
People who think they are superior, have the key to eternity, love the position that they have, take pride in putting people down, judge whoever they like, and look down on others.

Its our job to show them, the chap we follow Jesus, fought the “established church”  until they got so fed up with him they killed him.

All those that thought they has the key to the pearly gates, who had established positions, who put power before god.

Therefore what the secular world dislikes about religion do too.

Then of course you have to face the fact that both the person that planted this cross in Martin Luther Kings Garden and the man picking the cross up saw themselves as christian?

cross on the lawn

Again we have to try and see the man we follow was inspiring Rev King and empowering him to face down those who again wanted to protect their power and position.

Can you see the similarity?