From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:
Thirty-two days after Jesus’ circumcision and seventy weeks after the announcement of John’s birth to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel, the Lord comes to His temple to fulfill the Torah (Luke 2:22-38). The days are indeed fulfilled with the presentation. Jesus’ parents keep the Torah and fulfill it by brining Jesus to His true home. Also, Jesus’ parents offer the alternative sacrifice of two turtledoves or two pigeons. Leviticus 12:8 allows this instead of a lamb (showing the poverty and humility of Joseph and Mary). Yet no lamb was necessary because already here at forty days old, Jesus is the Lamb brought to His temple for sacrifice. Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis is a beautiful example of the immediate response to this inauguration of God’s consolation and redemption in the Christ Child. Speaking to Mary, Simeon also prophesies about the destiny of the child.
We stepped into some uncomfortable territory in our Bible readings this week. In the past, whether it’s been intentional or not, there have been some Bible stories I have avoided telling the children. In part, probably because a lot of children’s Bibles leave out (or diminish) some of the harder stories. Cain and Abel is one example of this that we tackled in the first days of homeschooling. That’s a story that, if it even appears in a children’s Bible, is usually grossly understated–Cain wasn’t nice to Abel, etc. Understandable–when you’re talking to impulsive children who are prone to push, hit, or bite (OK, only Moose does the biting!) when they’re upset, you may not want to mention a guy who killed his brother. That tends to make the aforementioned pushing, hitting and biting seem less bad. But we made it through that story without incident…
This week was harder, though. We had to read about Abraham being instructed by God to sacrifice Isaac. Another story we hadn’t read before, and one I really didn’t want to have to try to explain to two small children. How do you talk about a father preparing to kill his only son, and then add in that he was doing it because God told him to? But we made our way through that one, too. Turkey and Bunny didn’t say or ask much, but I could see the wheels turning in their heads as they pondered what the story meant. I didn’t want to press them too hard–I certainely didn’t want to be the cause of any nightmares by talking about it too much.
What we did talk about, though, was how good it was that Abraham loved God so much, was obedient and able to trust Him. And how good it was that God provided a ram so that Isaac wouldn’t have to be the offering. And most of all, how, because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for all of us, we don’t have to offer sacrifices to God anymore, and He would never ask us to what He asked of Abraham. I hope I reassured them sufficiently. Reading that part of the Bible is a totally different experience when you’re doing it with your own, rather sensitive, children. I think I need some reassurance, too!