The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord


Receive, O Simeon, Him Whom Moses once beheld in darkness granting the Law on Sinai, and now Who has become a child subject to the Law. This is He Who spoke through the Law. This is He Who the prophets heard, Who for our sake has taken flesh and saved man. Let us worship Him.

The aged servant of God, Simeon, seeing the Word of God held in the arms of His Mother, understood that this was the Glory revealed to the Prophets; and he cried, "Rejoice, O Holy Lady, for as a throne you carry God, Lord of the light that knows no evening and King of Peace."

--From the Vespers and Matins of the feast.

Forty days after Christ was born he was presented to God in the Jerusalem Temple according to the Law of Moses. At this time as well, His mother Mary underwent the ritual purification, and offered the sacrifice as prescribed in the Law ( Leviticus 12 ). It is at the Temple that the elder Simeon and prophetess Anna, filled with the Holy Spirit, confirmed that the infant was the new-born Messiah who would "cause the fall and the rising of many in Israel."

In the service of the feast of the Presentation of O ur Lord, the fact emphasized is that Christ, the Son and Word of God, through Whom the world was created, now is held as an infant in Simeon's hands; this same Son of God, the Giver of the Law, now Himself fulfills the Law, carried in arms as a human child.

The celebration of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Church is not merely a historical commemoration. Inspired by the same Holy Spirit as Simeon, and led by the same Spirit into the Church of the Messiah, the members of the Church can claim their own "meeting" with the Lord, and so also can witness that they, too, can "depart in peace" since their eyes have seen the salvation of God in the person of Christ.

Taken from The Orthodox Faith, Vol. II: Worship , by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

About the Icon

St. Joseph is shown on the extreme left, as an elderly man with white hair and beard. The Theotokos stands beside him with her arms extended toward her Son, Jesus. She is traditionally shown in blue garments. The doors of the temple are seen in the background, and the infant Christ is held by the elderly St. Simeon the God-Receiver in front of and above those doors. Behind St. Simeon stands Ste. Anna the Prophetess, who proclaimed on seeing the Christ Child that he was the long-awaited Messiah.

Taken from The Icon Book , by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie, and Matusiak.

 

Troparion Hymn

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, Full of Grace!
From you shone the Sun of Righteousness,
Christ our God,
Enlightening those who sat in darkness!
Rejoice and be glad, O Righteous Elder;
You accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls,
Who grants us the Resurrection.

Kontakion Hymn

By Your Nativity, You did sanctify the Virgin's Womb!
And did bless Simeon's hands, O Christ God.
Now You have come and saved us through love.
Grant peace to all Orthodox Christians,
O Only Lover of Mankind!

The Prayer of St. Simeon

The following prayer is sung at each Vesper service. It is found in Luke 2:38 .

Lord, now let You servant depart in peace, according to Your Word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and for the glory of Your people Israel .

Some Things To Do

Use the festal icon to relate the story of the feast to your children, and identify each of the figures. Copy and mount the festal icon, and ask your children to color it carefully. Display the icon at your family icon space for the feast.

On the feast of the Presentation, we bless candles for use all year long. This is to remind us that Christ is the "Light that enlightens all mankind". Bring a homemade candle to church to be blessed. It can then be used at your evening meals during the afterfeast, until February 9/February 22.

Discuss with your children the idea that Christ is the "Light of the World" . (He guides us in the way we should live. He helps us overcome evil. He gives us understanding of the ways of the Father. Explain that this is the reason for lighting candles in Church, and encourage them to light candles at each service.)

Incorporate St. Simeon's Prayer into your daily prayers during the feast and afterfeast.

-Taken From Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).

From the Prologue of Ochrid by Saint Nicholai Velimirovic

The fortieth day after His birth, the All-holy Virgin brought her divine Son into the Temple of Jerusalem, in accordance with the Law, to dedicate Him to God and to purify herself (Leviticus 12:2-7, Exodus 12:2). Even though neither the one nor the other was necessary, the Lawgiver did not want in any way to transgress His own Law, which He had given through Moses, His servant and prophet. At that time, the high-priest Zacharias, the father of John the Forerunner, was serving in the Temple. Zacharias placed the Virgin, not in the temple area reserved for women, but rather in the area reserved for virgins. On this occasion two very special persons appeared in the Temple: the Elder Simeon and Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. The righteous Simeon took the Messiah in his arms and said: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation (Luke 2:29-30). Simeon also spoke the following words about the Christ-child: Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel (Luke 2:34). Then Anna, who from her youth had served God in the Temple by fasting and prayer, recognized the Messiah and glorified God. She then proclaimed to the inhabitants of Jerusalem the coming of the long-awaited One. But the Pharisees who were present in the Temple, having seen and heard all, became angry with Zacharias because he had placed the Virgin Mary in the area reserved for virgins, and they reported this to King Herod. Convinced that this was the new king spoken of by the Magi from the East, Herod immediately sent his soldiers to kill Jesus. In the meantime, the holy family had already left the city and set out for Egypt under the guidance of an angel of God. The Feast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple was celebrated from earliest times, but the solemn celebration of this day was established in the year 544, during the reign of Emperor Justinian.

 

HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Simeon the God-receiver

When winter encountered spring,
The aged Simeon was of good fortune:
He encountered the long-awaited One
Who was foretold by the prophets.
The treasury of all heavenly riches
Was seen as a naked infant by Simeon.
And in this manner Simeon prophesied:
“Evening has descended upon my life;
This One is set to conquer many
And to raise many.” Thus the spirit spoke—
The elder’s prophecy was fulfilled:
Jesus became the measure and the standard,
The source of happiness, peace and joy,
But also the target of disputes and maliciousness.
One He lifts up, the other He overturns,
And Paradise and hades He opens to men.
Let everyone choose whatever their hearts tell them.
In Paradise with Christ! That is our hearts’ desire.