Sunday, February 14, 2021
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple,
Poon Paregentan (Eve 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 eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;
 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?
 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;
 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?
 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’
 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
 “Judge not, that you be not judged.
 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
 Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
 “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.
 “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
 Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?
 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.
 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
 “Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
 On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
 And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’
 “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;
 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand;
 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”
 “Cry aloud, spare not,
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
 Yet they seek me daily,
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
 `Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and thou takest no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a rush,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the LORD?
 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.
“If you take away from the midst of you the yoke,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
 And the LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your desire with good things,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters fail not.
 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
 “If you turn back your foot from the sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
 then you shall take delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
 Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed;
 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;
 let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.
 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
 As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions.
 One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables.
 Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him.
 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.
 One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind.
 He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
 None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
 So each of us shall give account of himself to God.
 Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean.
 If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.
 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.
 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit;
 he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats;
 it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble.
 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves.
 But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
 “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
 Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread;
 And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
 And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal,
 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America