Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Welcome to your online worship from St. Mark’s for Sunday, December 31, 2023.
I hope you all have had a safe and joy celebration of Christmas.
Today’s Opening Sentence
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. – Colossians 3.15, 16
Today’s Reading – Luke 2:22-40
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 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
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. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 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, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 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 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
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, 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. 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.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.1
Your Online Message and Prayers
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Reflection questions for the week:
- How can you cultivate a spirit of anticipation in your life, akin to Simeon’s eager expectation of God’s promises? What steps can you take to recognize and embrace signs of transformation, even in the midst of uncertainty?
- In what areas of your life do you encounter brokenness, seeking repair and renewal? Reflect on ways you can avoid being swayed by empty promises and deceptive rhetoric, choosing paths that lead to healing and restoration.
- Consider moments in your daily routine where you can actively participate in God’s unfolding narrative. How can you embody the anticipation of Simeon, the devotion of Anna, and the transformative power of Christ’s birth in your interactions with others and in your personal journey?
- As you step into the unknown chapters of your life, how can you live with confidence, trusting in the whispers of hope and the echoes of renewal? What practical actions can you take to be a participant in God’s grand narrative and serve as a testament to the enduring truth that, in Christ, all things are being made new?
This week music is again provided by Ryan Van Dijk, our Music Director. Thank you to Ryan for his ministry of music!
A continued reminder that if you are at all uncomfortable being in-person for worship, or if you are not feeling well, please join us here online.
Thank you again for joining with your parish family in our online worship today.
Find out how you can support our ministry and good work in the community here.
God Bless you and have a blessed week. Be well!
The Rev’d Canon Rob Park
- Scripture quotation is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.