Imagine this at your baby’s dedication. You go up front where the preacher does her blessing; perhaps water is sprinkled or maybe even your baby is baptized in a little font. Pious prayers are said, God invoked—it’s a routine that happens month by month in the cycle of the church’s life. Then a man walks in, “led by the Spirit,” and promises that your child is destined “for the rising and falling of many” and that he will be “opposed so vigorously that it will reveal the intentions of many.” Then this man says that you will find your own soul “pierced by a sword.” A little blue or pink New Testament would hardly seem an appropriate gift after all of that.
Jesus was certainly no normal child and that was marked by the extraordinary way in which he entered the religious life of his people. Simeon and Anna saw in Jesus someone who came to save the world but also to disturb it. They knew from the start that Jesus was going to stir things up and that the forces of death would soon mount up against the power of life.
It would be easy to leave this as a nice story that doesn’t mean much for us. We can just go on talking about welcoming children into our churches—crayons and a couple of bible themed coloring sheets to keep them quiet. Read more