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 turtle-doves or two young pigeons.'
(Church in Wales lectionary, from New Revised Standard version)
The miracle of birth is always amazing, those tiny fingers and perfect nails, that clasp an adult's hand, and the way they take over our entire life until two adults often stop looking at one another but look via the baby. Every child is a blessing, and for Jews a firstborn male or female baby was thought to be holy to the Lord. The Law of Moses demanded that a firstborn child should be offered back to God in thanksgiving for their birth. However, the child can then be redeemed by a sacrifice, in this case of two young pigeons.
So Mary and Joseph came to the Temple - to offer a thanksgiving sacrifice for the birth of their first-born child, Jesus. For them this sacrifice would have had a considerable cost, and they chose the lesser offering, rather than the more costly one of a pair of turtle doves.
As we come to the end of this year perhaps we can say a prayer for all first-time parents, who had been particularly hard-hit by this pandemic.
we pray for all parents
and especially for first-time parents
who have faced unexpected difficulties
May they turn to You
when life is hard,
and understand how You
care for them
as their Heavenly Father.
You might care to look up the ruling on parents and a first-child in Leviticus, Chapter 12: