Resurrection House Blog: Get Ready for the Picture, and Say ‘Cheese!’
Get Ready for the Picture, and Say Cheese!
For every major life event, rest assured my parents were there with a camera, ready to take a picture. Although because of technology today, taking a picture and sharing it instantly; it isn’t a big of deal. But when I was four or five it felt like taking a picture was truly a big deal. My parents were capturing every special moment, a memory we could keep forever. My family used a film canister camera, which meant we had to wait for the pictures to be developed. And when we finally received those new pictures, it was so exciting to go through them, and we did so ritualistically. We had to hold each picture only at the corners, ensuring not to smudge it. And we had to keep the pictures in the exact order we took them or else! My parents emphasized caring for the pictures because they knew that one day, I would want to show someone those pictures. So we took great care in handling them.
Today’s gospel reading is full of those precious picture taking moments for Jesus and his parents; it was Jesus’s presentation, which was a big deal in Jewish tradition. During our preaching group this past Monday, Father Tom explained that the presentation of Jesus actually consisted of three separate ceremonies, not just the one presentation ceremony, which is what I initially thought. In those times it was Jewish tradition that the mother wait 40 days after the birth of her child to be ritually cleansed. So the first ceremony was the ritual purification of Mary. The second ceremony, was the presentation the first born child to God. And finally third ceremony, was to dedicate the firstborn child into the Lord’s service; three ceremonies one day.
When Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple for Jesus’s presentation ceremonies they met an older man named Simeon, who was to perform the ceremonies. He was described as “righteous and devout” individual, but there was something else unique about Simeon. Through the Holy Spirit, God made a promise with Simeon that he would see the Messiah before his death. So when Simeon held Jesus, he knew that God’s promise was fulfilled, and he could die in peace, we understand this when Simeon says, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation” To me this is an impressive display of pure faith. He was an older man, who could have just given up, become cynical, and dwell on the idea that God wouldn’t provide. Instead he simply had faith. He had faith that the Lord would provide. After Simeon’s revelation, he describes Jesus as, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” emphasizing to Mary and Joseph the miracle Jesus will be in the lives of others. At this point, if Mary and Joseph were carrying a camera, this would be a picture perfect moment.
After the ceremonies were performed in the temple, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus walk out of the temple and pass Anna a prophet. From the reading, don’t know much, be we can understand that she was definitely an older woman. In one of the commentaries, it said she could have been around 100 years old. Even in her old age, Anna was dedicated to worship, and had a strong faith in God. So when she came across Jesus and his parents, she understood how significant Jesus was. There in front of her was the Messiah. Perhaps because of her age, she couldn’t walk around to spread the word, but she didn’t let that stop her. She simply spread the word just by talking to others about Jesus. If there was a picture taken at this moment, I imagine it would be Anna taking a picture of Jesus, so she could share it with everyone.
Today, there are lots of people that encompass both a pure devotion to faith like Simeon and a willingness to spread the word of God like Anna, but a particular person that pops into my mind this week is Shirley Cummings. When I first met Shirley, she told me about her faith journey and how she first began to attend services at Church of the Holy Spirit. Then she immediately switched to telling me about all of her children and grandchildren. Each of them having a special place in her heart. I could feel how devoted she was to her faith and family simply listening to her. Although Shirley has passed on, her devotion to God and love of others hasn’t stopped. It has been passed onward to her children and grandchildren. And I find this incredible, no matter how old or young, the love of God can be passed on.
God’s grace may always be within us, but we can learn to develop a deeper understanding of faith by listening to those who are wiser and have more experience with faith. Simeon, Anna, and Shirley were all prime examples of strong faith, and through their willingness to share their faith, they help develop everyone else’s.
Another great part about pictures is their ability to help reminisce about memories. By turning the pictures into a scrap book, putting them in a photo album, and even framing them and hanging them up. By sharing our memories with others, we learn more about who we are and others; ensuring that those precious memories stay close to our hearts.
– Alyse Viggiano