The Presentation Reimagined

Bruges - Virgin of sorrows in St. Salvator's church
BRUGES, BELGIUM – JUNE 12, 2014: The virgin of sorrows on the windowpane in St. Salvator’s Cathedral (Salvatorskerk) by stained glass artist Samuel Coucke (1833 – 1899) with Simeon and prophet Ann,

The Presentation is one of the joyful mysteries and I have imagined it many times over the years.  Mary proudly carrying her beautiful son while Joseph carried the two turtledoves.  They gave the doves to Simeon the priest who after offering the doves took the child in his arms and praised God.  Anna, an aged widow, nearby comes to see the baby as well.

Wonderful, beautiful, except it didn’t happen that way.  Mary and Anna  would not have been allowed any further than the Court of the Women. This was not just for women only, any Jew could come there, but  the women could proceed no further.

The Temple treasury was also in the Court of the Women.  Thirteen chests also called trumpets for their shape, lined the walls.  They were narrow at the top and large at the bottom.  Each trumpet was labeled for its purpose.  Trumpet Three was for people who wanted to offer turtledoves.  Mary and Joseph would have put a couple of coins in the trumpet.  Sometime later, someone would have come and gathered the money from the trumpet and figured out how many turtledoves the priests had to offer.  If not for Simeon and Anna, it would have been a very impersonal experience.

We don’t really know much about Simeon. He is just called a man in Jerusalem, it doesn’t specify a priest.  God truly must have inspired him to go when he did.  He saw that couple out of the crowd dropping a couple of coins into Trumpet Three and he knew this child was the One! He then gave a remarkable prophecy. First thanking God for allowing him to see the Messiah that he had waited so long for, then he prophesied regarding the future suffering of Jesus and Mary.  I’ve heard it called the second Annunciation.

Both Simeon and Anna were old. I believe they represented the faithful of Israel who had grown old waiting for the Messiah.  Simeon was from Jerusalem which at one point had been the capital of Judah the Southern Kingdom.  Anna was from the tribe of Asher which was the northernmost tribe of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. That descendant of that tribe had remained faithful speaks of a remarkable faith lineage.

To begin with after Solomon, the Northern Kingdom separated from the Southern Kingdom. They no longer worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem their king had set up alternative altars.  Anna’s ancestors would have had to make the long trip to that Temple in defiance of the religious practices of their own tribes and country.  This occurred about 930 years before Christ.

Then around 721 BC, her ancestors were conquered by the Assyrians and deported to other countries.  Later the southern kingdom of Judah was also sent into exile to Babylon and the Temple was destroyed.  It would not be until 538 BC that the Israelites were even given a homeland again and that was for the Jews from Judah.

So her ancestors would had to have kept the faith for at least two hundred years in a foreign land separated from the Temple and worship before they would have had even an outside chance of returning. Most people would have been assimilated into the culture. The religion of their ancestors would have been an ancient myth if it had been passed down at all.  Anna represented the faithful of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who had contended for their faith for over 900 years.

The Messiah had come for both of them.  Their hearts are what picked the Holy Family out from the crowd. They knew the One that they had been waiting for.

#trcot, #tcot, #Simeon #Anna #Presentation

 

 

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Immanuel – God with Us

Traditional orthodox icon of Mother Mary
The Icon a Mother of God (Mary) and child (Jesus Christ)

The Fall not only separated us from God, but God from us.  The Creator and the created lived in harmony in Eden for a time.  Then our first parents chose to walk away from God. They rejected the light and in doing so found themselves in the land of darkness.

The Old Testament is a walk through God’s efforts to reconnect with us, but He was always outside of us.  So God used nature and physical realities to speak to His people of spiritual matters yet to come.  He wrote His law on tablets of stone. His Ark was made of wood and gold.  His people’s spiritual battles played out in flesh and blood.

First, God spoke to one man Abraham, then through Moses, then through His law.  The Tabernacle went from outside the camp to the middle of the camp.  Finally, God’s house, the Temple, was built in the center of Jerusalem.  God was among His people yet still separated by physical barriers because of our sin.  Eventually, the people ended up defiling the Temple with false gods, and God’s spirit left the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant was lost. Our ancestors had fallen again.

Isaiah spoke of the coming of Immanuel which means God with us.  Jesus was God in the flesh.  No longer speaking through plagues and laws written on stone.  Jesus was the Word of God in the flesh and He spoke directly to us.  Mary’s body was the Ark of the Covenant made in flesh.  God was with us, walking among us.  Teaching us directly. Healing us. Delivering us from the Evil One.  But still there was this separation.  Jesus could only sit beside two people at a time.

There was a greater level of intimacy that God desired.  At the Last Supper Jesus spoke of the coming of Holy Spirit.  How we could be one with Him and He with us.  The coming of the Holy Spirit was God within us! God’s word is written on our hearts! St. Paul says that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We fight not against flesh and blood  but against spiritual hosts of wickedness!  Now there is no more waiting in the hot son for hours for the hope of catching a glimpse of Jesus.  He dwells within us.  Yet there is still a separation.

Everything in the Bible progresses toward the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where there will be no more separation.  The “God within us” stage will yield to “Unity with God”. This week we sing “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” but in our hearts and spirits is the Revelations cry, “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Come.”

#trcot #tcot #Immanuel #Maranatha

Related scripture: Isaiah 7:14, 1 Cor. 6:19, Eph. 6:12

Was the Visitation Part of God’s Plan to Restore Israel?

Antwerp - The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth by Francken
ANTWERP, BELGIUM – SEPTEMBER 5, 2013: The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth by Frans Francken (1581 – 1642) in Saint Pauls church (Paulskerk)

What had made Israel a holy nation during the rule of Kings David and Solomon were four things: the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple, the Aaronic priesthood, and the kingly line of David. By the time Jesus was conceived, the Ark of the Covenant had been lost around the time of the Exile, the Temple had been destroyed, rebuilt, and then desecrated by the Greeks and later Pompeii. The high priesthood had become a political appointment and King Herod who wasn’t even Jewish ruled Israel for the Romans.

When the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, God restored the Ark of the Covenant to Israel.  Instead of the Ten Commandments, Mary held within her the Word of God made flesh.  Instead of manna, she had the Bread of Life, and instead of the Aaron’s rod, she held the Eternal High Priest.

When Mary went to the house of Zechariah, she was visiting the priestly descendants of Aaron.  Both Zechariah and Elizabeth had descended from him.  Then the Holy Spirit fell upon John.  He would fulfill the role of his forefather Aaron by assisting Jesus, the new Moses, in freeing Israel from its slavery to sin.  The Visitation restored the Aaronic priesthood to Israel.

The Nativity restored the kingship of David and the Presentation returned the presence of God to the Temple. Before Jesus was even two months old, He had restored everything to Israel that made it holy.

When Jesus died the high priests had offered up the spotless lamb fulfilling their duties while betraying their God.  They had rejected the Son of David as King over Israel instead naming Caesar as their king.  The temple of Christ’s body was destroyed and the new ark of the covenant was a tomb.

Then came the Resurrection and the tomb was opened. The two angels that had adorned the top of the original one were now real and sitting on either end of the slab.  Their news was that the one you are seeking is not here but has risen from the dead.  The Ark was empty. Now, there are no containers separating us from our God!

Next, Jesus sent Mary Magdalene, not a pure virgin but a redeemed sinner, to the priests of the New Covenant–the Apostles.  The Ascension restored the eternal kingship of the Son of David and Pentecost created the new Temple using believers as living stones.  Jesus restored all things, fulfilled all things, then brought them to their eternal purposes.

#Visitation #Mary #Ark of the Covenant #Ark of the New Covenant #High Priesthood #Temple #trcot #tcot