Monday, June 21

Through the Eyes of Hannah: The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

I have started a series of dramatic readings for Christmas intended to be acted/dramatically read to children.  We are using them during Advent/Christmas/few weeks after for our God’z Kidz Wednesday night group (Godly Play).  I thought having a dress-up box for the kids to play with fits right in with the Godly Play philosophy.  So, that’s what we’re doing!  If you use these stories, please understand that they are my creative work and I’d like to be credited.

Based on Luke 2:22-38.  Hannah was an elderly woman who was a prophet.

Well hello!  My name is Hannah.  I have been living at the Temple in Jerusalem for years.  I am an elder and a prophet.  I've been here longer than I can even remember.  I love worshiping God so much that I hardly ever want to go home.  But you know what that means?  I get to see a lot of what goes on around here!

As an old lady, I love to see babies.  They just thrill my heart.  According to Jewish custom, there were a few things that would happen:

If it was a first-born child, the baby would be dedicated to God.  It says in the book of Exodus:  "Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine." (Ex. 13:2)

It also says that first-born children should be set apart and given to God. (Ex. 13:12)

Let's see, there are some other things too!  The parents are required to make an offering to God for every child born.  Most people offer a sheep, but if the family is poor, they can offer two turtle-doves or pigeons and the priest will make the offering for the parents. (Leviticus 12:8)

I bet you are wondering what it means to make an offering!  What do you think it is?  How do you do it in your church?  What kind of things do you offer?

Ah, well, in Ancient Israel, they didn't have money, really.  So they had to offer things that the made or raised.  Like grain if they were a farmer or sheep if they were a rancher.  That sort of thing.  So, for an offering, people would bring food.  The priests would take it and essentially cook it.  Some of it would be eaten and some would be left for God.  That's the only way the priests would get to eat!  Do you think it would be funny to have a big grill in the middle of church?

Anyway, back to the story.

There was another important thing that would be done at the Temple.  Boys would be circumcised which makes them part of the covenant that Abraham and God made. (Gn 17:10) The Bible says that they should be circumcised on the 8th day of their life.  They waited until the 8th day because the mama would need a little bit of time to recover and get back out into daily life.  Circumcision makes baby boys part of an ancient promise.

That is a lot of stuff for babies to do!

Well, last week, I was sitting outside of the Temple praying, and along came a young mother, father, and baby boy.  You could tell they were poor because they didn't have a sheep with them, they just had two little pigeons.  And they were scrawny pigeons at that!  They were bringing the baby to the Temple for purification because they were a good Jewish family.  Poor, but very obedient to God.

When they arrived, since I was right there, I asked if I could hold the baby.  He was so beautiful!  A healthy, robust, baby boy.  And their first child at that!  He will make a wonderful servant of God.  I gave him back to his mother and then old Simeon came up the steps of the Temple.

Simeon is even older than I am!  He struggles with the fact that the Romans are occupying Jerusalem.  We aren't really free to do whatever we want, when we want.  We are living under Roman rule and they are pretty mean.  Simeon is looking forward to the day when the messiah will come and the Israelites will once again be free.  As a matter of fact, he told me that God came to him in a vision and said that Simeon would see the messiah in his lifetime!  Imagine that!  The messiah.

Well, as Simeon was coming up the steps, you could almost see him change.  It was like the Holy Spirit was resting on his heart.  Simeon walked right past us into the Temple.  It was pretty weird.

Then the mother and father—that is Mary and Joseph—took their baby boy, Jesus, into the Temple.  I followed behind because I wanted to see what was going on with Simeon.  When Mary walked in with baby Jesus, Simeon walked right up to her and took the baby away.  Simeon held him so carefully and started singing and praising God saying,

"God, you are bringing me peace because you have let me see the promise of your salvation right here in this little baby.  A baby that will be a light for the whole world."

Well, then.  Simeon went on singing praises to God. I looked over at the parents and they were amazed at what Simeon was saying. Then Simeon turned around and blessed Mary and Joseph and told Mary, "This baby is destined to help many people in Israel.  Many will help him and many will be against him.  And unfortunately, your own soul will be pierced."

Wow.  That was weird.  What could he mean that Mary's own soul would be pierced?

After Simeon blessed the family, Simeon left and they went to the priest to finish all that had been started that day.  I was so amazed that I went back outside the Temple and began to praise God and tell everybody about the child that would be the redemption of Israel.  The messiah.

1 Comment

  • We studied this passage at church this morning and I was so blessed, I hope to be faithful so that one day if I grow old I might be able to have wisdom, faith, obedience and grace like Hannah and Simeon. I Think it’s really good to look at these passages, our generation needs to have more time to listen to and respect for older people. :] xx

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