By chance, the reflection I read on contemplative prayer this morning talked about Rembrandt's last painting which is an unfinished work of Simeon in the temple holding baby Jesus. That was a beautiful overlap because today in the liturgical church calendar is the celebration of Jesus's dedication in the temple. Our reading was from Luke where Simeon's encounter with the Savior is shared. Russell's sermon included a reference to this painting by Rembrandt as well.
Russell made so many good points in his short reflection, but he began by mentioning that while the Anglican church calls this feast day "Candlemas," in other liturgical traditions they call it "Encounter." Russell pointed out Luke's attention to the Holy Spirit in his Gospel as the same Spirit that came upon Mary to conceive Jesus was one to lead Simeon to baby Jesus in the temple. According to the Bible, this same Holy Spirit lives in me.
After Russell's sermon, I was reflecting on how the Holy Spirit leads me, and then I saw two students wander by my house. They detoured from their path home to say hello at my bench. While they were there for just a couple of minutes, we chatted about the encounters with the Holy Spirit that we want to be sensitive to, and I commented how the Spirit had led their feet on a detour so we could talk about encountering God. It was a really beautiful moment.
During the prayers of intercession in this morning's service, we paused to think of where we saw or felt God's presence show up this week to give thanks for that moment on purpose. Physically speaking, I fell short of progress markers because of really bad leg spasms, and being in remote learning made my lessons more difficult, so I felt like I had a limited selection of events to identify God's presence. That's a silly perspective though, because even in the leg spasms, God is with me. However, it was the conversation with my friend Alyssa in which I was able to process frustration with my body honestly and surrender my pain to God intentionally that I chose to thank God for this morning. I actually had a couple other really beautiful human encounters that were Spirit filled because people met me where I was at with my physical limitations.
Tomorrow starts a new week with me getting to meet my new students face to face for the first time, and I'm still looking up for the positive ways in which I can encounter God through intentional care of my body and thoughtful conversations with those around me. This Friday is my birthday, and I'll start a new age considering how I can honor God with my choices. I've shared my five prayer requests for the year on my Traumaversary post and a Facebook event, and I'd love for you to take a moment this Friday to pray through them with me.