Guided by the Spirit
One gift of this Sunday’s reading is the assurance that there’s a point to patience. Simeon waits and waits and waits and then salvation arrives, a vulnerable Child.
Simeon’s lyric benediction is now embedded in daily prayer services, but early in my ministry I was drawn to the sharp-edged prose he delivers to Mary after the praise.
“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—“
Preaching the prophets can be like swallowing a two-edged sword. The pastoral temptation to “First-Person-It” sets a congregation on guard. I decide to borrow a medieval tradition of mystery plays to present a series of monologues, Amos, Hosea, the Isaiahs, Jeremiah, and last but not the least, Simeon.
Hebrew scripture was rarely invoked in powerful and poetic ways in my experience of traditional, primarily white, congregations. As a young assistant minister, and the church’s first woman pastor, I decide we need a gifted actor, accustomed to the cadences of Shakespeare.
God provides. Sandra Presar, speech teacher and member of First Church is married to the head of the theatre department at WV Wesleyan. Chuck Presar is pressed into a prophetic role.
His deep cadences of justice and mercy rise in the sanctuaries of the Methodists, Baptist, Presbyterian and finally the chapel at Wesleyan. It’s a witness prepared in the presence of all peoples.
God willing, it’s also a light for revelation as well as a cautionary “sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—“
Wait for it.