Countdown to the Launchpad (Year C: The Presentation of Christ)

7 Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
Ancient doors: rise up high!
So the glorious king can enter!
8 Who is this glorious king?
The Lord—strong and powerful!
The Lord—powerful in battle!
9 Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
Ancient doors: rise up high!
So the glorious king can enter!
10 Who is this glorious king?
The Lord of heavenly forces—
he is the glorious king!

Psalm 24:7-10, CEB (Common English Bible)

A young couple walks from their hometown to the Temple. They bring their son and offer the only sacrifice they could afford, two small pigeons. In obedience to their God, they dedicate him, name him, and prepare to leave. And then, the anonymous couple is suddenly surprised by an outpouring of devotion and praise.

Simeon and Anna, devout, patient, faithful followers of God, have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Perhaps they were reminded of the Psalm of David that proclaimed the entrance of the King of kings. Perhaps there was a tremor in the bedrock, and they felt it, deep in their souls.


Their hearts responded in praise to God. In joy. In celebration.

Only Simeon’s words are reported in Luke’s gospel:

29 “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word,
30 because my eyes have seen your salvation.
31 You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples.
32 It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and a glory for your people Israel.”

33 His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.”

But Anna’s actions were recorded, even though her words were not:

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was very old. After she married, she lived with her husband for seven years. 37 She was now an 84-year-old widow. She never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

A celebration. A blessing. A promise of heartache. Not exactly what every new parents wants to hear when they bring their baby to be dedicated. You want congratulations. Maybe a few meals delivered to your home or help with household tasks. But to be told that because of your child, you will experience heartache?

Can I get a “NO, THANKS!”

As a parent, there have been some wonderful days, and some very discouraging ones. Not because of our progeny doing “something”, mind you, but because of my own human error and pride getting in the way. As our daughters approach independence, there is a sense of a backwards glance or two. And there is also a desire to see them fly into the world and take it by storm, with their bright potential and dreams.

In every baby baptism or dedication, there is a sense of this promise – that God has already guided, already led the parents together. And that God will bring each child to their place in this world. It is idealistic to the extreme. It is the face and source of Hope as we gather families and babies and proclaim the words of Promise:

“You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism

and marked as Christ’s own for ever.”

Beyond our wildest dreams, God takes the future and releases it through the lives of the Children of the Church. Their questions. Their stories. Their gifts. Their passions. We hold them as babies, cherish them as toddlers, teach them as children, and gradually release them into adulthood. Always knowing that the God of all, the One to whom they were dedicated, baptized and confirmed, will always be with them.

This year, The Johnnie graduates from college. Reedy Girl graduates from high school (college yet TBD.) Life’s pretty full, exciting, and full of forms like FAFSAs, CSS and SATs. Schedules, questions, interviews, jobs, so many plans… so many dreams. Life may not turn out to be with the dreams we dreamed. It may not be according to their best-laid plans, either. But it will be in accordance with the power of Christ, living, breathing, working through them.

Thus the Kingdom of God advances.

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