On February 2nd, most of the U.S. waits to hear the verdict of Phil the groundhog concerning the end of winter. The Orthodox Church, however, is already preparing for “spring”. It is on this day that the Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord. This is the day that Joseph and Mary bring the infant Jesus to the Temple and they bring with them a sacrifice of turtledoves. Before they can accomplish this though, St. Symeon meets them at the entrance. There Symeon says, “Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.” Tradition holds that Symeon was one of the Jewish scribes/priests that helped to compose the Septuagint, or Greek, Old Testament. When he translated a verse from Isaiah as “Behold a virgin shall bear a child…” instead of “a young maiden”, he was amazed and he doubted. Little did he know that all of the 70 scribes had done the exact same thing. Because he doubted, the archangel Gabriel appeared to him and told Symeon that he would live to see this miracle. This all occurred 100-150 years before Christ’s birth! Finally, Symeon saw the Messiah coming in the form of this young babe, born of a virgin, and he weeps in joy. For here in Jesus he sees the great love of God that will free us from the bondage to death, the never-ending “winter”. He sees in the child the Son of Righteousness that thaws the hearts of men and that sheds the heavenly light to a people who sit in darkness and shadow. So if you catch yourself watching to see if Phil sees his shadow, rejoice in your heart knowing that the Light of Christ has so illumined the world that we no longer fear the dark for it is only illusion and smoke.
The Presentation of the Lord
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A Good Word
In the Tradition of the Orthodox Church the request to receive a "good word" is a request to both receive a blessing and to receive wisdom from a spiritual elder in our desire to follow after Christ. May these homilies and writings be to the Glory of God!
Fr. Joel Gillam is the Pastor of St. George Orthodox Church. He is Spiritual Advisor to the Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese, and is a graduate of St. Vladimir Seminary.
Deacon Joseph Clark is the assistant at St. George Orthodox Church. He has a background in Criminal Justice, and currently teaches the Catechumen classes at St. George.