Tonight's icon has two titles: The Orthodox tend to refer to this Bible scene as The Meeting while the Catholics and Protestants usually call it The Presentation in the Temple.
The scriptural passage that tells about this event has five main characters plus two doves.
The baby, Jesus, is taken up to the temple on the 8th day after His birth to be presented to God and made a member of the People of the Covenant. Of course, I realize that Jesus in this icon does not look like a baby, but then that is the tradition in icon painting. Except for the manger scenes, Christ always looks like a little man. I can talk about that in more detail some time.
The offering made by poor people at the time of this presentation was two doves (who were not going to be set free, unfortunately) and you see that St. Joseph is carrying these.
The Blessed Mother has just handed the priest, Simeon, her baby and can barely stand to let him out of her arms.
Simeon takes the baby with great reverence for he immediately recognizes that this is the Messiah. He has been promised by God that he would not die until he has seen the Messiah. As he cradles the holy child in his arms, he begins a song of praise to God. The opening line is "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people."
The woman standing behind Simeon is named Anna. She was widowed when she was a young woman and has spent all the many years of her life praying in the temple in Jerusalem. She, too, recognizes the child as the promised Messiah and tells everyone who will listen.
All this takes place in the same temple in Jerusalem, a short distance from Bethlehem where Jesus was born, that will be the scene of many of the major events of the life of Christ. In a sense, the stage has been set.
I am still not feeling that great -- some migraines just refuse to leave! So I will save the other comments I would like to make until some other time.
May peace be with you all.