Monday, April 5, 2010
Be My Guest Monday! A Pair of Doves or Two Young Pigeons
Happy Monday everyone and welcome to Be My Guest Monday. Yes, I have somehow managed to keep up with this despite feeling super-overwhelmed in the rest of my life. I think it helps that my guest posts are so fantastic, it makes the lack of my personal posts seem somehow ok. :)
For anyone who would like to Be My Guest, please click on the link and check out the rules, and leave me a comment if you're interested, or if we've already talked but I haven't given you a firm date yet. I will get back to you, I just have to catch up a bit first. :)
But today I've got something totally awesome for you. Autumn over at Living Out Loud has allowed me to repost something of hers that is just splendid. Please read this, then go check out her super-fun blog. I especially love that she's tracking her workouts. Way to go Autumn!! And if you've come over from her place, welcome!! I do hope you'll take a peek around. I'm getting back into the swing of things, I promise, and I do hope to get my blog to be a bit more participatory. :) Well, now on to what you came here for:
A Pair of Doves or Two Young Pigeons
21On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, 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"[a]), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
This is from Luke 2: 21-24.
I was reading this tonight when I paused and it occurred to me that Mary and Joseph had very little money. I myself am struggling financially right now. I'm out of a job and while Bill works full time his paychecks bring in just enough (barely) to cover our bills. We have no room for real wants (I don't count the internet as a want for me it is a need) and my mother helps pay my car payment because right now we just can't afford it. I sat there thinking about what I had just read and (as usual) put myself in Mary's shoes. I would not have been able to afford doves back then, at least not a pair of them probably. I'm thinking that Mary and Joseph's humble offering was most likely a pair of pigeons. Pigeons! We see those all over the place and they are often referred to as "rats with wings" in NYC. And yet that was all they had and if their financial situation is anything like mine that probably set them back a little even though I'm sure to them it was worth it. (And think about it, when does a sacrifice to God not cost you a little of something be it pride, time or what not?) I read the footnotes in my Bible to see what more they could offer if maybe they thought Mary and Joseph had given pigeons as well. The footnotes didn't specify which of the two birds they gave but they did have this to say:
"For 40 days after the birth of a son and 80 days after the birth of a daughter, the mother was ceremonially unclean and could not enter the temple. At the end of her time of separation, the parents were to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a dove or a pigeon for a sin offering. The priest would sacrifice these animals and declare her to be clean. If a lamb was too expensive the parents could bring a second dove or pigeon instead."
Now while I don't agree with a woman being "unclean" after birth that was custom in those days. Think about it though, after the birth of a baby a woman is asked to stay away from sex for at least 6 weeks and during that time her body does a lot of….cleaning of its own. There is another passage in 1st Corinthians 7:5 that states "5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
I'm just tossing ideas out here but I'm guessing that the "sin offering" was for the separation period in which the husband and wife "separated" themselves from one another. (In other words they didn't have sex for that period of time, after all, the woman was considered unclean and she'd just had a baby. Who'd want to have sex right away after giving birth, naturally I might add, in a stable?! Not me!!) The lamb offering was obviously thanks to God for giving them a child, and I just covered the dove part of it for the sin offering. But Mary and Joseph couldn't afford the lamb so they gave a pair of doves or a pair of pigeons.
I can just picture young Mary and young Joseph (they really weren't that old when they had Jesus) walking up to the temple with a pair of pigeons. How humbled Mary must have felt! Here she is just having given birth to a son that was greeted by shepherds and angels, the Christ our Lord; God's own son and all she has to offer are two simple pigeons. And yet…. It was enough. God knew where her heart was. And to him that was all that really mattered. It doesn't matter how much I give what matters is where my heart is. If I give all I can God doesn't see the amount, he sees the devotion and he will reward me for it. Later in Jesus' ministry he watches people offer up money to God. (Mark 12:42, and Luke 21:2) Some people offer a lot of silver and gold and one poor widow offers two small copper coins (total worth: less than a penny) and Jesus uses that moment to call his disciples and show them the value of giving with your heart. How cool is it that he doesn't look at the dollar signs he looks at the heart! I tear up thinking about how much God loves me and how little I have to offer back, and somehow reading that even his parents didn't have the funds for a lamb but gave what they could anyways reminds me that it's my heart God wants. Not my wallet.