Child of Covenant

A meditation on Luke 2:22-40 for the Feast of the Presentation of The Lord

You had to be there.

You had to be there,
To see it,
To feel it,
To understand it.

To understand what it meant,
What it means
What this child will mean for our people
After years, decades, generations of waiting
Of watching, and waiting and endless praying

I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been here
How long we’ve all been waiting
Waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise

And then this

And then the revelation by God’s Holy Spirit
That he would come
And that I would be witness to
The fulfillment of this promise,
This prophecy,
This covenant,
And all of this
Before I die.

I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been here
Waiting for the consolation of Israel
For good news
For that all encompassing shalom
a sense of home
in this homeless world

Good news not restricted to the elite
(the leaders and the priests)

But good news, real, embodied, transformative good news
for the poor
the hungry
the broken
the hated and excluded

God’s good shalom,
God’s holistic peace.

A peace and a freedom passing all understanding.
A peace that cannot – that will not – be bought.
Not for 30 pieces of silver.
And not at the cost of more innocent lives.

I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been here
Waiting for the fulfillment
For God’s shalom

When all around, the locusts swarm
The Roman hordes
Centurions and Battalions

Occupying this land
Occupying our hearts and minds

So that we cannot even begin to imagine
that another world
that God’s world,
that God’s promised future,
might, in fact, be possible.

Like I said before, you had to be there.

You had to be there,
To see it,
To feel it,
To understand it.

It was in that moment
That very moment
That it became abundantly clear
That such a world
That such a future
is not only possible,

But that such a world is here

There I was, led by God’s spirit
into the temple
into the presence of the holy,
of those parents, poor, fearful and lowly
following the letter of the law
Mary and Joseph,
Too poor
Too poor to purchase a year-old lamb,

Yet, there they were.
Mary, and Joseph, a pair of pigeons
A pair of turtledoves,
And this baby
A baby we would later call
The lamb of God


Imagine that.
Mary, Joseph,
a pair of turtledoves,
and the lamb of God
who takes away the sins of the world.

You had to be there,
And maybe you find yourself there, with me now,
You see it,
You feel it,
And together, we behold the gravity of this moment.

Holding that months-old baby in your arms
Listening to him coo and gurgle
Learning to smile

And knowing
Somehow knowing that we can rest
In peace.

In the knowledge that peace,
That God’s shalom has been born amongst us.

And that this child
This poor, little, innocent, barely smiling child
From the backwoods of Israel
is now and forever our salvation.

A light of revelation
Revealed in our presence, here
For the redemption of all, everywhere.

They stand there amazed.
Slightly dazed at what’s been said,
What’s been done
In the presence of their son

But how can they be?
How can they be amazed after the journey they’ve made?
To Elizabeth and Zechariah,
And their baby John
From Nazareth and Galilee,
To Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

And where do we find ourselves today?

Do we, too, stand there amazed?
Slightly dazed, or altogether unfazed
By what God has done
In sending us this son

This good news embodied,
this promise fulfilled
When this good news and promise
can taste of a bitter pill

And we know, all too well
that the truth has been revealed.
We know, all too well,
that what has been said is true

This child, destined for the falling and rising of many
This child, a sign that continues to be opposed

Not only in the world that surrounds
But, at times, in the depths of our own souls
Exposing the ambiguity of our innermost thoughts

The glow and sheen of Christmas worn thin,
We seek and struggle to follow
In this new and daring,
Countercultural and self-sacrificing way

Even as we get the first hints that this road will not be easy
And that faithfulness to Jesus
In a world of endless choice and endless options
In a world of broken contracts and unkept promises
Will take all that we’ve got
all that this community has got

This child born amongst us
Is the child of promise
The child of covenant

And even though we don’t know the road ahead
Even though we don’t have all the answers

We, like Simeon, can respond,
Declaring that we are in it for the long haul
Come hell or high water
For Better or for Worse
Knowing that through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ
We are witnesses to God’s salvation

And that we can now depart in peace.
Thanks be to God.

Andrew Stephens-Rennie on FacebookAndrew Stephens-Rennie on Twitter
Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

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