2 February – Jerusalem bound

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 firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
(Luke 2.22-24)

The dawn is breaking and people are setting off on journeys. The shepherds have been in the fields all night, the innkeepers are looking after their guests, bread is being baked and in the yards donkeys are getting ready for a hard days work. People are setting off on journeys. An old man leaves his home, he’s Jerusalem bound. It’s a journey he makes regularly, from his home to the Temple at the heart of the city. In the precincts of the Temple an old woman is stirring. She never leaves the Temple. Once she was Jerusalem bound. But the journey ended for her. She’s not travelling any longer.

Dawn breaks

Dawn breaks

In Bethlehem a young family are getting ready to leave their home. Its forty days since the young woman, the young girl, gave birth to a baby boy. She and her husband are not from these parts, well not now. Joseph’s family originated from here but he moved a long time ago, from Judea to Galilee and it was the Roman occupation that had brought him back. They had called for a census and everyone had had to go back to their place of origin and at the very worst time, Mary about to give birth, in the worst season of the year, they were Bethlehem bound.

Those forty days after the birth of their baby had been like no others in their lives. People they did not know had come to see them and they talked of their child in such strange ways, with words that they couldn’t get out of their minds. Mary was forever going back over what people had said as they saw their child, as they saw Jesus.

Now, on this cold morning, in the dawn light, they left their house. Mary rode on the donkey again, the one that had brought them to Bethlehem, and they set off to Jerusalem. Last time the baby was in her womb, this time her son is in her arms. They too were Jerusalem bound.

But it was not the Roman occupying force that was demanding the journey, but their own law. They were making this journey to fulfil the demands of the law, God’s law, which asked that in thanksgiving for the birth of their first son, an offering was made. It was a life for a life, an offering of a bird for the life of the child. A life for a life. They would buy their offering when they got to Jerusalem, buy from those who sold in the Temple courts, make an offering of love, for love, of life, for life. Now there was a journey ahead of them.

And as the dawn breaks we are setting off on a journey, to work, to school, to the shops, to family, to friends, a journey of remembering as we sit, a physical journey, a mental one. And in the morning we too prepare to make an offering, not of a life but of our life, but an offering in thanksgiving to God for this new day, this fortieth day, with all that it holds in store for us, an offering of love for love.

Lord,
as the dawn breaks
as the day begins
accept our praise
accept our thanks
that we may walk this day
with you.
Amen.

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