Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple,
Third Day of Great Lent
 “And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the door of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering,
 and he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her; then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female.
 And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”
 The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
 before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
 When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
 then I was beside him, like a master workman;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the sons of men.
 And now, my sons, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
 Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
 Happy is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut.
 And he said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.
 “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
“For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;
 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD.
 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.
 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian;
 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)
 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,
 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
 “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word;
 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
 which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to thy people Israel.”
 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him;
 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in
and for a sign that is spoken against
 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”
 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phan’u-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity,
 and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
 And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.
 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
 “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
 Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come.
 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.
 Watch therefore — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning —
 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.
 And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.”
 “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!
 I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!
 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division;
 for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three;
 they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
 He also said to the multitudes, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming’; and so it happens.
 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat’; and it happens.
 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.
 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 He was in the beginning with God;
 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;
 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
 (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'”)
 And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.
 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
 On that day the LORD will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
 They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.
 Then the moon will be confounded,
and the sun ashamed;
for the LORD of hosts will reign
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
and before his elders he will manifest his glory.
 O LORD, thou art my God;
I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name;
for thou hast done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
 For thou hast made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the palace of aliens is a city no more,
it will never be rebuilt.
 Therefore strong peoples will glorify thee;
cities of ruthless nations will fear thee.
 For thou hast been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the blast of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
 like heat in a dry place.
Thou dost subdue the noise of the aliens;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.
 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined.
 And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
 He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.
 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.
 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says,
 `Heaven is my throne,
and earth my footstool.
What house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
 Did not my hand make all these things?’
 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate;
 but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father.
 So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe.
 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
 So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.
 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover.
 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom;
 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it,
 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances;
 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.
 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions;
 and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
 And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.”
 And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
 And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.
 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America