Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Luke 2:22-40

This narrative-poem was inspired by the young American poet Amanda Gorman, who read her poem at President Joe Biden and V.P. Kamala Harris’s Inauguration. The reference to my late brother Anthony in Section 5 on page 2 marks the 3rd anniversary of his funeral, on Candlemass Day 2018 (P.F.)

Some years long since,  a story told
In music with the spoken word I did
Compose, ‘The Naughty Boy’
From Python’s film, you know,  of
‘Brian’s Life’, when with words bold
From out the window Mary called, that’s
“No Messiah – no – he’s just a very naughty boy!”

Here is no vain intent,
No sacrilege is meant,
Only to show
We little know
Of all our Saviour’s early years.
Yes, just that we might recognize,
Not only to surmise – but see
That Jesus Christ, if he’s with us –
Full well completely be
FOR US, both you and me,  yes
Stranger too, and alien, all the
Broken battered ones, with naughty folk
To sin enslaved – might these be saved? –
If that is truth, then Christ must fully human be
As well as God most True.

Through years’ wide span, this Son of Man
“Like us in all respect, and sharing
All that we on earth must share” –
Right through from Wordless infancy
To flight of refugee,
Then joys and fears of childhood years,
With gender angst and loves both found and lost,
(We count the cost)
And troubled parents, wondering.
Yet in due time he came full strong
And wise to grow, this child,
In God his Father’s glory-glow
Through light to night of darkest pain,

Betrayal and torture-trial, with Cross absorbing evil all
His whole life through from birth to death,
Through deepest dark to glory light.

Now soon we’ll come to Simeon
In life’s twilight, that dear old man
With whom all older ones especially
Might share a common joy,
To cradle in their arms that tiny boy, oh little one
So full of life those forty days
With life abundant soon to give
For all, whatever be our erring ways.

But first, another dear old soul – of special mind –
So missed by me his cranky brother now
On this flame-feast of Candle Mass.
Since three years past, long farewell day
When people were so kind
In funeral church all lovingly
With candle-light warm gently bathed:
“Depart in peace, dear Anthony,
Humble servant of your God”.
Your eyes full surely will have sight,
Eyes touched with mercy’s healing light.

And now we journey back in time
Through ages long,  and climb
Those Temple steps. Here Simeon comes
Messiah to affirm
In words that speak of peace,
Release…from his long eighty years.
His lot has been to wait,  hope,  yearn
The Glory now come home,
A Light for vision far abroad – the Word of God
This gurgling wordless babe!

Yet hold! ….. we start – amazed – a sword,
(Does Simeon warn) will pierce young Mary’s heart
With stabs of wide bewilderment,
Unknowing, and a tomb-deep sorrow.

Sure wider though, and longer still by far
(As warns prophetic Malachi)
Will this sword search,  and reach
Our inmost parts, to purify and cleanse
The souls and hearts of all humanity –
This broken race, yes we
Who even so remain required,
All called to splendrous Light, acquired
By judgement tough, redemptive,
And plentiful – refiner’s fire.

Then following Simeon
Anna comes, draws near,
Confirming our redemption sure
As Father-Mother God now in this child
“The still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation, beyond all woe,
To one of eighty years or more,
And no tomorrow”.

No future though?
This surely cannot be
In full light of Eternity,
Since Simeon, Anna too
Have seen the Promised Land
As Moses did – though here and now
God’s Dispensations old and new
Are both together met, and joined time-being
Through and through.

So this day, we too see, is
Advent of new Kingdom time
Created over all once more
By stabbing pierce, ecstatic state
Of suffering Sovereign Love,
To validate that deepest mercy- flood
Divine – baptismal waters
Willed for all, both high and low
In ever-running flow –
For sometime yet, we know,
Shall many rise and fall
In Israel and beyond.

Still sure, for now,
Our frail and misdirected hands
The shackles of the old to shake off strive
Across all peoples and all lands.
Too much enchained do we remain –
“No longer here at ease
In old tired dispensation
Like alien people clutching still their gods”:
While still we too do cling to playing god
And build our towers of Babel-powers
Which yet do lead by self, lust, greed
To hell-on-earth – to Holocaust.

Yes, so we are, too long by far.
But wait!
The light of hope does also break
Into our troubled plague-bound world
With new beginnings ocean-cross
And four years’ see-saw nightmare’s end
By tolling bell resound.

So there and here, dear friends
Let’s make for joy, and move on still
And future forward fare,
To where some fresh-thrust branches sprout
New faith,
With moist green leaves of hope,
And fruits of charity all about,
Which never Adam, Eve did see
On Eden’s famed first tree!


Rev Paul Fisher, 31/01/2021

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