Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
In his book Jesus: A Gospel, Henri Nouwen reflects on “why God came to us as a baby” and offers food for thought as the Church commemorates the Presentation. Nouwen, in the following passage, reminds that Jesus came to inform our faithful efforts to present pure and clean hearts to God.
God says, “I love you with an everlasting love,” and Jesus came to tell us that. We are the Beloved, not because we did anything, not because we proved ourselves. Basically, God loves us whatever we do. If that’s true, these few years that we are in the world, we are sent to say, in the midst of our life, “Yes, God, I love you, too.” Just as God cares for us, it’s very important that we care for God in the world. If God is born like a little baby, God cannot walk or speak unless someone teaches God. That’s the story of Jesus, who needs human beings in order to grow. God is saying, “I want to be weak so you can love me. What better way to help you respond to my love than becoming weak so you can care for me?” God becomes a stumbling God who falls at the cross, who dies for us, and who is totally in need of love. God does this so that we get close. The God who loves us is a God who becomes vulnerable, dependent in the manger and dependent on the cross, a God who basically is saying, “Are you there for me?”
God invites us daily to present our broken and hopeful selves forward to be transformed and bless others along the way. As the season of Epiphany continues to unfold, may the light of Christ beam brightly within and from us through who we are and all that we offer to the glory of God.
The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector