Friday, January 8, 2010

Great Expectations

"For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:30-32

I'm expecting! I'm waiting with great anticipation, excitement and hope for my grandson's arrival in just a couple of months! And as I look forward to meeting him I've found myself looking backward lately, reminiscing about the births of my own two children.

One of my fondest memories was their Dedication Day when we presented our children to the Lord and our church family. To me, Dedication Day symbolized several things: our giving ownership of our children back to God as their creator; to raise them according to His purpose, not our own; to raise our children to honor and worship God and the dedication of our church body to support us in those efforts. As a personal touch, our children were dedicated by their Uncle Bill, an ordained Baptist minister. He had a wonderful tradition after he prayed for us and over our children where he weaved up and down the aisles of the church, personally introducing our baby to the entire congregation giving them a feeling of ownership of our child as well.

This custom of dedication is based on the Jewish law of consecration when the first born male of every Jewish family was brought to the temple on the eighth day to be consecrated (or dedicated) to the Lord. It's first mentioned in Exodus 13:2 when God was giving Moses the Laws of Israel. We also find it in the life of Jesus. Luke records the significance of Jesus' Day of Consecration in chapter 2:21-40. Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple on his eighth day of life to present him to the Lord and to make the proper sacrifice according to the Jewish Law. There was nothing spectacular about their obedience. They were simple, God-fearing parents carrying out their responsibility.

But there in the temple that day, were two prophets (Simeon and Anna) who had been waiting, expecting, hoping for the arrival of Jesus! They'd dedicated over 80 years of their lives praying, fasting and looking for their promised Messiah. When Jesus was carried into the temple that day, they knew who Mary was holding. Moved by God's Holy Spirit, Simeon approached Mary and Joseph first and prayed over Jesus, giving thanks to God for the promise of salvation to ALL people, Jew and Gentile alike, through this child. Immediately following, Anna the prophetess, approached them also giving thanks for Jesus, as the Messiah, promised redeemer of Jerusalem and weaving throughout the temple telling everyone who had been anticipating Israel's redemption about this baby Jesus.

I'm sure by the end of their day at the temple Mary and Joseph's heads were spinning. They knew their Jesus was to be the Messiah all along, but did they fully know the significance of that?I don't think so. Just like us, presenting our babies before the Lord, we don't fully know who we're holding in our arms. That child may look like us and act like us but he is fully God's, created in His image to do great things for His kingdom.

The expectations we hold for our children may be great but they can never surpass the aspirations that God has for them. May we consciously point our children to seek Him first and to follow the desires God places in their hearts.

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