Icon of the Meeting of Our Lord

The Meeting of Our Lord in the Temple

Forty days after Christ was born he was presented to God in the Jerusalem Temple according to the Law of Moses. At this time as well his mother Mary underwent the ritual purification and offered the sacrifices as prescribed in the Law. Thus, forty days after Christmas, on the second of February, the Church celebrates the feast of the presentation called the Meeting (or Presentation or Reception) of the Lord.

The meeting of Christ by the elder Simeon and the prophetess Anna (Lk 2:22-36) is the main event of the feast of Christ's presentation in the Temple. It was "revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ" (Lk 2:26) and, inspired by the same Spirit, he came to the Temple where he met the new-born Messiah, took him in his arms and said the words which are now chanted each evening at the end of the Orthodox Vesper service:

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 the revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Thy people Israel (Lk 2:29-32).

At this time as well Simeon predicted that Jesus would be the "sign which is spoken against" and that he would cause "the fall and the rising of many in Israel." He also foretold Mary's sufferings because of her son (Luke 22:34-35). Anna also was present and, giving thanks to God "she spoke of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Lk 2:38).

— Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Orthodox Faith (read more)