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A Light For Revelation..

December 27, 2014



It is amazing how light and perspective can alter how you look at an object. This old doorway and bell tower on the grounds of St Bernard’s Abbey in Cullman, Alabama caught my eye when I was on a prayerful walk during a contemplative retreat there last May. It sits nestled in a small grove of trees between a classroom building and the main office building of the Monastery. In the first picture I took, it was nearly obscured in the shadows and the tree behind it was not fully visible. Yet when I got closer and the sunlight shifted, the whole tone of the picture changed dramatically! I found myself entranced by the way the sunlight shone on the tree and was almost illuminated by it.

I am a very amateur photographer, but I do enjoy capturing the moment behind the lens of the camera and every now and then I get it! I had walked by this old bell tower and even driven past it several times during my retreat. Yet that time, when I took the pictures, something called out to me.

In Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke 2:22-40, we read about the presentation of Jesus at the Temple for purification according to the law of Moses. Either a pair of turtle doves (where the Twelve Days of Christmas song gets day two, perhaps?) or a pair of doves were presented for sacrifice by Joseph and Mary so that Jesus, as the first born son, would be designated as holy to the Lord (vs 23-24).

In the Temple that day, as was their daily routine, were two people. One was Simeon, who was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him (vs 25). The other was a prophet named Anna who never left the Temple, but worshipped and fasted there night and day (vs 37).

I wonder how many people had Anna and Simeon had seen come in and go out of the Temple through the years. Yet patiently, they waited and worshipped in the Temple with the ears and eyes of their hearts open to the possibility that God would reveal God’s self in some way to them.

On the day when Jesus was brought in, the Holy Spirit revealed the infant Messiah to both Simeon and Anna. I can almost imagine how it happened in a way like my walk by the bell tower ruin. The light shone in their hearts and revealed to them both the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary.

As Simeon lifted the infant Jesus in his arms, he gave to the world a most profound and beautiful blessing! “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, because my eyes have seen your salvation. You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.” (‭Luke‬ ‭2‬:‭29-32‬ CEB) And then Anna praised God and spoke about Jesus to all who were there looking there for the redemption of Israel (vs 36).

All it took was a whisper from the Holy Spirit and eyes opened to seeing the light of Christ. In that moment, that precious moment, two lives were forever changed. Simeon could die in peace having seen what he had waited his whole life to see. And Anna could speak with confidence and authority as a prophet about a wee child who would change the world.

My prayer is that you and I will slow down and be open to that gentle whisper of the Spirit and see that light shining in the darkness. As the great poets of the 60’s, Simon & Garfunkle said, “Slow down, you move too fast. You’ve got to make the morning last.”

God’s richest blessings to you this day and always ❤️

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