Go back to normal view
The exciting bit of winter is over. Our Christmas decorations are packed away and we are recovering after our celebrations, if we had them, or after our disappointments in the season, if that is what they turned out to be. And now we have the long slog through the coldest part of the year, waiting for Spring and signs of life. “It is in that context that the Feast of Candlemas is such a welcome reminder of “the light that shines in the darkness”. The official date for this celebration is always the 2nd February, although we are keeping it this year on Sunday 29th January.
The “proper” name of Candlemas is “The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple”. It celebrates the occasion, described in St Luke’s Gospel, when Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to the Lord, in accordance with the requirements of the Jewish Law that all firstborn sons should be especially dedicated to God. The Biblical account tells us that there was in the Temple an old man, Simeon, who had been promised by God that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. He was present when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus there. He took the baby in his arms, praised God, and prophesied that Jesus would become “… a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2.32). The reference to light in this passage gave rise to a tradition that, in an age when candles were the principal source of light inside buildings, all the candles that were to be used in church for the coming year were brought into the church and blessed – so … Candlemas!
It is a picturesque idea, but it is not just a quaint custom. Light is essential for life. Without light, not only can we not find our way about, but everything dies. Simeon spoke of the Messiah as the one who would bring the light of revelation to all the peoples of world, as well as glory to Israel. Christians believe that Jesus is the Light of the World. He is the one who helps us to find the way through life’s challenges, and he is the one who gives life.
As we journey on through 2017, we give thanks for the Light of the World, for our life, and for God’s guidance. We pray for the grace to live in that light, to rejoice in life and to follow where God leads, wherever that may take us.
With every blessing,