Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature created after the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24. The New Zealand Prayer Book. p.662)
The date of February 2nd, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple has several meanings in the Liturgical Year. Today marks 40 days since we celebrated the Nativity of Christ on December 25th. Eight days from today is already Ash Wednesday; the beginning of Lent. The Presentation can be thought of as our “bridge” between Christmas and Lent. Today, we make the turn towards recalling the events of the Death and Resurrection of Christ.
When I read the short verse for the Presentation from The New Zealand Prayer Book, the idea of it being a day for renewal struck me. The Christmas event and the events of the Easter Triduum are about renewal. So, I was surprised to learn to think of the Presentation as also being about renewal.
In The Rule of St. Benedict, his many texts throughout its many chapters point us to multiple opportunities to start over. We begin by “listening with the ears of our hearts.” We begin each day, each of the various hours of the day with the Divine Office. Each Office is a new beginning at the specified time of the day. Humility is the opportunity to ascend by our acts of humility, or descend by our attitudes of arrogance. Yet, at the end of the twelve steps of humility, we are challenged to start over from step one.
The Presentation invites us to contemplate beginning again from the point of pureness of heart, obedience out of love and the sacrifice of our hearts as we search for union with God. We all walk away from these yearly feasts and tread out a bit further away from what the Gospel of Christ calls us to. In the Presentation, we are invited back to our sacred temples of prayer and repentance and receive the blessing of God to start over again. We are “renewed in spirit” and “put on the new nature” so that we move forward with the love of Christ as our guide and goal.
How is God calling you to contemplate how you are being renewed today?
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB