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21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:21-32 NIV)
A stork in the front yard. Excitement measured in ounces and inches. Dad’s old christening gown. Mom’s decades old baby blanket. Cream of chicken casseroles and an uncomfortably long visit from your mother-in-law. The birth of a new baby is marked by traditions in so many different ways.
But what Mary and Joseph did after the birth of Jesus was not dictated by tradition alone, but their faithfulness to obey the law of Moses.
The Old Testament, where Moses plays a major role, sets the stage for the theme of pretty much the entire Bible – God’s covenant to save the people of Israel and then all who trust in Him, by any means necessary. His rescue plan involved parting the Red Sea, providing food and water in the desert to those weary of travel and exile, just name a few. Then ultimately, as God had always planned, it looked like the birth, life, death and resurrection of His Son – Jesus.
Many now look at the laws of the Old Testament and find them harsh, restrictive, irrelevant. The book of Leviticus – where a lot of these laws are found – doesn’t feel like an easy beach read.
But not Mary and Joseph. They saw faithfulness to the laws of Moses as a sacred practice. They saw it as trust in and obedience to God, their Savior. This sacred practice is one based on the art of remembering – remembering all the ways God had shown up – and then leaning in with anticipation to the promises to come.
By presenting their first-born son to the Temple that day – as the law required – Mary and Joseph root Jesus’ feet deeply in the promise of salvation for all nations, not just the Israelites. They connect the ancient Law to a redemptive future. Simeon, a man who had heard from the Holy Spirit, got to experience this connection firsthand, because of their decision to uphold the Law. Their faithfulness reorients the original covenant around a new north star: Christ Himself.
- How are trust (or faith) and obedience related to each other? In relationship to God, can one exist without the other?
- What are some ways you’ve seen God show up in your life?
- What do these “God memories” tell you about the character of God?
- How could you develop a practice of remembering?
Father God, You are good. Again and again. Develop in us a long-term memory of Your goodness. Help us lean into who You are and the best You want for us. Stir in us anticipation for what’s to come through a relationship with Your Son, Jesus.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Because of what God has done in her own life, Stacey Martin believes in the power of our stories. The twists, turn, ups and downs show us time and again how God is always present, working it all out. She believes in the sacred art of remembering as a spiritual practice and thinks God has an incredible sense of humor.