St. Matthew’s Sermon 02-05-2017

St. Matthew’s Sermon 02-05-2017

You too!

Malachi 3:1-4, Hebrews 2:14-18, Luke 2:22-40

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

As we divide the Gospel accounts into bite-sized pieces for each Sunday’s reading and occasionally bounce around from one Gospel to another according to the season, as in today’s reading, we can easily lose track of the particular emphases of the different authors. This is especially a problem when some of the Gospel message is presented subtly and is spread out over the pages. Just such a situation presents itself in the Gospel story of the Presentation of the Lord from Luke.

If we go all the way back to the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, in the first chapter we hear of the parents of John the Baptist. As it is written,

“…Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord”.

Then, just a little further along in the first chapter, we read, “…the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary”.

Looking closely we might notice the contrast between these two couples; Zachariah the priest and his wife Elizabeth are both declared righteous before God compared to Joseph and Mary who were not of the priestly clan.

Shortly after that Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth and, as we read,

“…the child leaped in [Elizabeth’s] womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.

Inspired by the child in her womb Elizabeth lifts her voice in praise and proclamation!

It happens again, right after that, when John was dedicated at the Temple and we soon come to the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds in the field and proclaiming the birth of the Savior; contrasting the scene of the exalted priest in the Temple to that of the lowly shepherds in the field.

And within these two events we also hear Zachariah and the shepherds lift their voices in praise and proclamation!

And now, in today’s reading it happens again as Mary and Joseph take Jesus to be dedicated in the Temple; but this time slightly reversed. Whereas the man Zachariah was a priest and his wife Elizabeth also declared righteous, this time it is a female prophet and a common man who take part in the story. Simeon was given a promise that he would see the Lord’s Messiah before he died and was moved by the Spirit to go to the Temple in the day Jesus was presented and the promise was fulfilled! And the prophet Anna, who “…never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day” was there also; and both of them lift their voices in praise and proclamation!

I tried to keep it brief and concise, but if I lost you along the way this morning it’s easy to understand; the theme is so intricately woven together. In case I did lose you, let me recap… In the story, so far (and we haven’t even reached the end of chapter two yet), we find Angels praising and proclaiming; a priest and a prophet are praising and proclaiming; those declared righteous and those not declared so are praising and proclaiming; the exalted and the lowly are praising and proclaiming’ men and women are praising and proclaiming; even a not-yet-born child is praising and proclaiming! And we hear praises and proclamations being lifted in the Temple; we hear praises and proclamations being lifted in the home; we hear praises and proclamations being lifted in the streets; and we hear praises and proclamations being lifted even in the fields!


I am an Ordained Minister of Christ’s Church; and I stand before you now, in this Temple, praising and proclaiming. But my titleandmy location have nothing to do with my requirement to share the Good News ormy authority to do so. Just look at the story Cindy shared with us two weeks ago, about the woman in need she is aiding. Cindy is not a priest, she’s not old, she’s not specially trained; but could there be any greater praise and proclamation, in the street with her actions or here in the temple with the sharing of her story?

It’s plain to see that our world, today, needs to hear the Good News as much, if not more, than ever before. If the Church is going to make any difference in it, she needs every voice she can get. And I’m not only talking about Angels, priests, and prophets; I’m talking about every man woman and child. And I’m not only talking about here in the Temple or amongst our friends, I’m talking about in the home, the streets, and the fields!

Christ calls his Disciples to “…make disciples of all nations”. You are Disciples of Christ; you are not exempt; and you are not without authority!

Go then, let your voice be heard in a loud cry lifting praises and proclamations!



For today’s Gospel I am using the reading assigned for the “Presentation of the Lord” celebrated this past Thursday; that reading is…

Luke 2:22-40
2:22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
2:23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”),
2:24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him.
2:26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
2:27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law,
2:28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
2:29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
2:30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
2:31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
2:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
2:33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.
2:34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed
2:35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed–and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
2:37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.
2:38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
2:39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
2:40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.


Malachi 3:1-4
3:1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight–indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;
3:3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.
3:4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

Psalm 84
84:1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
84:2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
84:3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
84:4 Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
84:5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Hebrews 2:14-18
2:14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
2:15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
2:16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.
2:17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.
2:18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.