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Luke 2:22-40

Luke 2: 22 "When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, Jesus’ parents 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.”

Happy New Year! Due to the ice storm, the service at All Saints was cancelled today.

This Sunday is formally known as "The Naming of Jesus". It is based in the Jewish custom that women were not allowed to travel for 40 days after giving birth. Men and Women would go to the Temple for a service of purification. Women were also not allowed to be in public at the markets etc until she had gone to the Temple for cleansing as well as naming her child. This has a shadow in Christianity where children are "named" in the Baptismal service and until the last 40 years, women only were called upon to be "churched" after childbirth. If you look in the 1962 Book of Common Prayer in Canada, you will find a service called "The Churching of Woman". This practice was abandoned in 1976 by the Anglican Church of Canada as it made women into second class citizens. Sadly, it is still practiced in some churches that still use the BCP and have not embraced the reforms of Theology ’76. In my early ministry I have been asked to practice this when I was in Nova Scotia but refused as I felt it was demeaning to women. I used to say that if men are required to be "churched" I would consider the request. Canadian women were expected to stay at home until churched after childbirth. Ridiculous and discriminatory!

This is the verge day of 2018. What restrictive cultural practices still exist today that tend to boost some and repress others? As Progressive Christians, we need to rebuild religious practice from the ground up. The old culturally induced practice that suppresses some mainly women and people of colour including First Nations must be ended! Dominant cultural practice is a denial of Jesus and the message of Love He proclaimed. We must transform our perception of the world. A writer I follow and admire is Diana Butler Bass. She recently wrote..."This religious and political transformation is what some hope will be a ‘Great Turning’ toward a global community based on shared human connection, dedicated to the care of our planet, committed to justice and equality, that seeks to raise hundreds of millions from poverty, violence, and oppression.” 

It is my prayer that in the coming year, we not only name Jesus but live the values of Jesus as taught and reflected in the Gospels. We need to reflect and apply these teachings in our own society. This application is not just for Christians, but for all.

Fr. Richard Rohr challenges us to remember that "If we are going to rebuild Christianity “from the bottom up,” what is the foundation upon which we’re building? Love is our foundation and our destiny. It is where we come from and where we’re headed."

Amen! Have a Blessed 2018! May it be a Year of a "Great Turning".