Sermon Notes: Holy Family, Year B

Text: Luke 2:22-40

This is the outline notes for Mass at Holy Trinity, Gosport. I plan to speak extemporaneously, so what is here may be vastly different to what is actually preached.

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

  • People ask at this time of year “how was your Christmas” – and I resist the temptation to say “I was working”
  • They say “how was your Christmas” as you might say to each other this morning – as if it was all over and done with.
  • And yet, it is still unravelling – the Magi are still some way off and today we celebrate the Holy Family, the model of family life for all of us. The work of Christmas did not stop at the stable, star and shepherds. Seasonally it carries on through to Epiphany, and beyond, into a new Church year as we continue to grow in faith, to be open to the possibilities of God.
  • Today’s Gospel speaks of the promise of the child and begins the revelation of the word of God to us;
  • Action takes place at the very heart of the Jewish faith – the temple
  • Nunc Dimittis- Song of Simeon “Lord now let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled” and the possibilities of God come clear to them…
  • The words of Simeon and the prophecy of Anna come at the end of their life, they speak of completion, of fulfilment. The word made flesh completes the process of salvation, for both Jews and Gentiles alike.
  • The process of salvation is not an immediate act, but is the work of a lifetime – it took the lifetime of Simeon and Anna to see it and it will take us our lifetime.
  • There are many that will try and offer you a quick fix: a 12-step programme for salvation, a simple “say this prayer in your heart and you will be saved”, but Christ calls us to the work of a lifetime, and beginning the journey with Jesus means picking up your cross and daily following him, striving to be formed in the likeness of Christ
  • And formation takes a lifetime. Prayer. Discipline. Sacrament. Reconciliation. Study of God’s Word. Pilgrimage. No quick fix. No simple solution. Nothing that can easily be purchased in a Christian bookstore or downloaded from the internet.
  • We should like Simeon and Anna be prepared to prayerfully wait, to bide our time, to let these things come to maturity, to fruition.
  • As we do these things, we become slowly aware of the possibilities of God, and our lives are transformed, and the world in which we inhabit becomes transformed.
  • We hear of this incident, another when he is 12, and then… nothing until age 30. The time, the kairos had not yet come.
  • No accident that Nunc Dimitis is used in each evensong as we enter the dark before the dawn; no accident that I use it at each funeral I conduct as we look for the dawn of the resurrection. It’s no accident that Christmas is not over, but the work of a lifetime.
  • Let us take up that work, follow Christ on that long and arduous journey, so that at the end, we too may be able to say the words of the Nunc Dimittis in peace, hope and expectation that the wondrous possibilities of God may be visible in our lives.

Amen