Leviticus 12 passes down instructions from God through Moses. At 8 days circumcision of male babies was a custom that started with Abraham that was an initiation into the Jewish community. For the next 33 days the mother was still considered unclean. Whether we agree or not, a system was set up to protect women from another immediate pregnancy until her hormones settled and the baby had a chance to establish himself also. At this time there was only the Temple in Jerusalem so Mary and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem. It is difficult to imagine parents committing to a trip like that with a woman barely a month after birth but this couple did.
Commitment is a word that we associate with young adults shying away from marriage ceremonies. Our lives are so mobile now that those deep communal roots are often found in rural settings. Living together before marriage has become much more socially acceptable and the commitment of marriage seems more easily broken. Like marriage, I note that this purification was a public ceremony with people around at the Temple. We will listen to the testimony of two of them in the next two days. Purification was public and involved the bringing of a gift, a sign, a pair of doves as Joseph and Mary were poor. There must have been a priest who said the words and received the doves. This was a serious ceremony.
So how serious are we about our commitment to our faith? I have chuckled at the saying that someone is a “CEO Christian” – Christmas, Easter, and Other times like funerals. I have also heard the title “Frequent Flyer” meaning that someone flaps through church periodically. As we finish 2021 and start 2022, let us think of spiritual disciplines we might commit to for the coming year. We want God to be committed to our well-being. What might we consider a good “spiritual gift” we bring – Scripture reading? Prayer? Despite the stereotype, putting our money where our heart is may be a fair expression of our commitment. Church attendance, perhaps not every week but often enough to be a habit. Sending our children to church? Joining some group at church? Then again, an exercise habit can add for instance a lap of prayer as I swim. What will be your part? It is true that relationships call for commitment, are public, and usually involve some sort of gifting to the other. Let’s step up to the plate this coming year with our spiritual relationships! Blessings.