Thursday, February 02, 2012

A light to enlighten the nations

I have always loved Candlemas, aka the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, aka the Purification of Our Lady, aka Groundhog Day.

I like how it overlaps Old Testament and New Testament themes. I reminds me of Hannukah, yet it is about Jesus (the new temple) coming into his own house (the old temple) to be dedicated to the Lord. Jesus and Mary are declared ritually clean again after his birth (thus Candlemas officially wraps up the Christmas season).

There are a number of contrasts. Childbirth normally defiles under the Law because of the bleeding involved, yet Mary was sanctified by the presence of the Lord within her. The temple is also sanctified by the arrival of Christ. A birth is a cause of great joy, yet Simeon tells Mary "a sword will pierce your own heart also." The old temple gives way to the new temple, which shines as a beacon of hope to a world wandering in darkness.

It was my privilege to officiate at the "Churching of Women" (aka The Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child) for the first time two Sundays ago. Congratulations again to Sarah and Zach Robinson on the birth of their son Wiley. This service is perhaps the truest remnant of Old Testament Jewish worship and ritual that we have today.

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