Baby out with the bathwater?
Today the “church” celebrates ‘Candlemas‘ a holiday steeped in tradition from Jewish law and the Catholic church. Perhaps today we look at it as ‘Groundhog day‘ or just another day to go to work. Today as a historical celebration is of enough importance to have been recorded in scriptures and yet most Christians would not recognize the celebration today.
In the Torah a woman who had given birth to a male child was unclean for 7 days and required to wait an additional 33 days to be clean enough to approach the temple and begin a ritual cleansing. February 2nd is the 40th day from Christmas and marks Mary’s return to the temple for worship and presentation of the Christ child. This is a well documented event and had great significance on our worship and study.
As Christians we focus on Christ and not Mary. In catholic tradition the emphasis is given to the “blessed virgin” but we can for a moment set aside that tradition of the Catholic church and look at it for what it is in the scripture.
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
So the question today is, do we teach this celebration to our children or do we through the baby out with the bathwater?