How to look for the Lord: The presentation of the Lord into the temple
Rev. Deacon Michael Tervo
Once a wise man showed a young boy a nut.
The wise man asked, "what do you see."
The boy answered, "A nut!"
The wise man said, "Try again."
The boy tried again: "It is something that will become a tree."
Finally the wise man said, "Nice try, but you're wrong? I see what will become an entire forest!"
That nut could have become a number of things: a seedling, a tree, several trees, or even entire forest. The wise man tested this boy to see if he was able to look beyond appearances and to see what a thing can become. In essence, he tested the boy's very ability to see. This was the wise man's point: with the right attitude one can see that sometimes within the smallest things can be found the greatest potential.
Christians know, love, and live by the word potential. A Christian strives to see the world around him in the fullest way?not only how things are but what they can become. Thus what appears to be small may hide large meaning. And the large things, even the large things that dominate our lives, aren't necessarily as big as they seem to be.
On February 2nd we in the Orthodox Church celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord into the Temple. The Virgin Mother and Joseph, a humble couple from a humble town, take Jesus to the Temple along with something to offer as a sacrifice of thanks to God. While in the Temple the couple presents the child to a very old man.
This old man's name was Symeon. Upon seeing the baby Jesus, he rejoices and says a rather strange thing:
"Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the Glory to your people Israel."
While most people would have seen only a helpless little baby, Symeon saw this baby Jesus as the Lord, God, and Savior. Why could Symeon see differently? First, through a promise that he would not die before seeing the Savior, God prepared Symeon for this moment. When God wants to be seen He will be seen. Second, Symeon desired to see his Savior in whatever form He would take? even in the form of the little baby Jesus. Symeon allowed himself, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to see Jesus for what he really was and would become? the Savior of all mankind. He saw differently because he wanted to and tried to.
The Bible says that because Symeon was a "righteous man" he would be able to see the Lord Jesus. Symeon wasn't righteous because he never sinned. Nor did the Bible call him righteous because he followed exactly every rule of his faith? though he probably tried to do so. He was called a "righteous man" because he looked forward to the coming of Christ.
Like Symeon, search for God's presence in your life in ways you've never thought before. When you find Him, give thanks to God for his presence and the blessings that He has given you. Invite him to be even more present in your life. This is the best form of worship that you can give to God. Search patiently and expect to find God. You will not be disappointed.
Deacon Michael Tervo is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and serves as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Metropolis of San Francisco.
For additional resources, visit the Youth Ministries website at www.youth.goarch.org.