Lord, you now have set your servant free
to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
A Light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel. (Nunc dimittis, BCP 120)
The Scripture readings appointed for Morning Prayer on this Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple (that’s a mouthful!) all point to the freedom represented by the infant son of Mary and Joseph.
The Psalmist takes us back to the perennial complaint: “Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?” (Ps. 42:1).
Both Hannah’s song (1 Samuel 2) and Zechariah’s song (Canticle 16, BCP 92) point to a child as the symbol of God’s saving action in the world.
In Hannah’s song, sung in her joy after she has become pregnant, God is the one who “makes poor and makes rich, he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts up the needy from the ash-heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor” (1 Sam. 2:7-8).
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, sings a song to God and to his infant son: “You, my child, shall be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins” (BCP 92).
And the one presented in the Temple this day?
As an adult, Jesus invites the Jews who had believed in him to understand that the truth will set them free. The Son, the true Son of God, has come to set all people free from their slavery to sin. Our souls no longer need be heavy. We will know salvation by the forgiveness of our sins.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
That’s a promise worth singing about!