Luke 2:21-24

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

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 turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Luke 2:21-24

Like many congregations, we worship God in a variety of ways. A normal Sunday would include three services, two in English, one of those using the organ and a more formal liturgy, another in English using a praise band and a less formal liturgy, and the third in Mandarin Chinese. Why do we do that?

In part, we do it because we can. Not every congregation has the people and the resources to do what we do. And we don’t have the people and the resources to do what other congregations do. We all do the best we can with what we have.

In part, we do it because we are free to do it. Like everybody else, our tradition has many customs and patterns of behavior but we aren’t legalistic about it.

And, in part, we do it because – even if we realize that no congregation can be all things to all people – we do want to be responsive to the variety of ways that people can sense a godly connection in their worship life. But there is a fine line in all of that.

On one side of that line is the invitation to be gracious to one another. To appreciate diversity. To be understanding that what feels like a beautiful musical expression to one person sounds like noise to someone else.

On the other side of the line is a person who sets their own taste and preferences in concrete, baptizes them with holiness, and argues that their way is the only godly way of doing things.

But don’t be fooled – lots of people still want to sit in “their” seat.

And don’t be fooled into thinking such issues around worship are a modern invention. For a long time, many Christians had to learn Latin to fully participate in worship or even to read the Bible. Lots of sparks flew when those traditions gave way.

Even in Jesus’ day, there were stark divisions in how people expressed their faith. The Sadducees required people to follow all of the laws of the Temple; others expected people to live their daily lives according to the laws of Moses as taught by local Pharisees. Jesus’ parents did what was right in both. They did what was expected of them. They played by the rules. They got off to the right start.

The problem with rules and laws, when it comes to our spirituality, is how easily we can confuse external conformity with internal transformation. We can follow all the rules and still miss the point. We can touch all the bases without being touched.

Or, we can approach worship with the expectation of being surprised by God. By hearing something that challenges us, even angers us, until we realize that that was exactly what we needed to hear and wrestle with to become the people God created us to be. Because it then follows that we would leave worship with a new willingness to do what God has created us to do.

For today, just know this, Jesus was raised by parents who valued their faith, who valued its traditions, who did what they believed right in getting Jesus off to a good start.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, thank you for the communities of faith of which we are a part. None of them are perfect because none of us are perfect, but we pray for your continued guidance as we do the best we can to honor you and be used by you to shape the lives of the people you love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

One Response to “Luke 2:21-24”

  1. Gordon Says:

    Thank You Kerry Once again very interesting.

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