"When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, 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”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:22-24).
Yesterday, if you remember, we reflected on the sacrificial lamb, and more specifically our Sacrificial Lamb, without spot and blemish, the Lord Jesus Christ.
A big part of Jewish worship was the sacrifice of animals, of which a lamb was one. Mary and Joseph, in this passage, go to the temple in Jerusalem to present their sacrifice. While this was common practice for a woman who had recently given birth, to present their son for circumcision on the eighth day together with a sacrifice of an animal, a significant factor about the offering of doves or pigeons was that these were usually the offering presented by those who were not very wealthy – the offering of those who could not afford a lamb or a goat.
"'Anyone who cannot afford a lamb is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the LORD as a penalty for their sin--one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. (Leviticus 5:7).
Since the death (and resurrection) of our Sacrificial Lamb who died once for all, we are no longer required to bring an offering of animals in our worship of our Holy God. Of course, in view of God's mercy, we are encouraged by the Apostle Paul to “ to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). However, the point I’d like to bring out of today’s contents of Gift Bag 17 – a turtledove – is this.
In a world where the value of one’s gift is very often determined by the price-tag attached thereto, i.e. if the gift does not have a high monetary value, it is not ‘worth’ much – I’d like to suggest that the issue is not the size, price or ‘flashiness’ of your gifts, talents and skills. Instead the million-dollar question, when it comes to our worship and service of the Lord is: What do you have in your hand? Right now, what are you ‘holding’? What is at your disposal that can be used to make a difference in the Kingdom?
So, what do you have in your hand, Dear Friend? When you measure your talents against those of others, are you left feeling inadequate? When you weigh up what you are doing in this performance-driven world, are you left feeling almost ‘useless’? There are a number of characters from Scripture who could be cited as having been in the very place that you are. If you have some time, read up on them:
Each of these, and others, felt inadequate. The challenge to each, whether directly or indirectly, was “What do you have in your hand?” “What have you been given?” The answer of each initially was “Not much!”
Are you saying today: “My neighbour has an expensive lamb – all I have is a measly turtledove”. You know what, Friend, if you go back and look at the Levitical system – whether the offering was a prime lamb or a mere pigeon, the effect was the same – forgiveness, atonement, etc. The key was the motivation of heart with which these were being presented.
I’d like you to know today that that which you have in your hand; that which you have been given, is ENOUGH! Identify what you’ve been given; sharpen it through upskilling, etc and then use it to the best of your ability for the glory of God!
You know what will happen when you do your best from a heart that is rightly motivated? You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! You will have a sense of peace knowing that you are playing your part, even if it is the size of a turtledove, in making a difference in this hurting world.
I close with the words of the late Mother Teresa who said:
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”.
Friend, by God’s grace, add your “drop”, your “bucket”, whatever you have to the “ocean” and may you be blessed in doing so.
Dear Lord, I may not have much, a pigeon, a dove to give,
But I know that little becomes much in your hand,
Receive it as I give it, use it as I offer it,
To make a diff’rence in ways I don’t understand.