Sunday, November 23, 2008

Celebrating a non-event?

On Friday I celebrated something that probably didn't happen.

It was the last day of Spiritual direction school and our morning worship was led by a nun who is a Presentation Sister. Nov 21st is their feast day. A day of celebration and renewal of vows. On that day they celebrate Mary's parent's Joachim and Anne taking their 3 yr old daughter Mary to the temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. In the story, they place Mary on the third step of the temple and she dances joyfully up the stairs.

The story appears in a couple of apocryphal books such as Pseudo Matthew and the Gospel of James. It raised some tension for me. Here was an event that probably did not happen, there is no extant evidence that Jewish parents ever presented their daughters to the Jewish Temple, much less that Judaism has ever possessed a tradition of consecrated Temple virgins. The Feast was celebrated in the Catholic Calendar then removed, then reinstated.

My inner protestant was reeling. Here is an event that is not 'biblical', but has great meaning to the Nun who led us in worship that morning. The event may not have been 'biblical' but the truths and meanings she extracted from it truly were. Should I think less of this Nun for finding meaning in something that part of me said was 'not biblical'? Especially as her faith and love for God has led her to dedicate her life in Service with a level of dedication I can only aspire too?

How to reconcile this?

This morning in church they announced a special service we would be having Wednesday night. It's a service celebrating something that is not in the bible, it's also not in the Apocrypha either.

It's our annual Thanksgiving Service.

A Thanksgiving service is not 'biblical', but the truths we can learn from it truly are.

If I can celebrate and find meaning in one - I can find it in the other.

Tension resolved.

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