On the 2nd of February, we celebrate the Feast of Candlemas. Many years ago, in the days before electricity, people would take their year’s supply of candles to church to be blessed by the priest. The candles were blessed on this day when we also remember Mary and Joseph taking the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to give thanks for his birth.
In the Temple they met a very faithful and prayerful elderly man called Simeon who believed God had told him he wouldn’t die before he saw the Christ. Simeon had been guided by the Holy Spirit to go to the temple courts where he met Mary, Joseph and their baby. As soon as he saw them Simeon knew that Jesus was the one he had waited for all those years. Taking Jesus in his arms, he blessed him and praised God in those wonderful words which many of you may know as the “Nunc Dimittis”, which is said in traditional services of Evening Prayer.
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Luke 2 verses 29-32
Simeon’s words are often said at funerals because they remind us of the truth that Simeon recognised - that Jesus would grow up to offer hope to the world; to bring the light of God’s presence and his love to all people. As Christians, we believe that Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday and then rose again on Easter Day. Through this, God showed us the amazing power of his love – a love stronger than death.
As the rate of infection from Covid 19 has continued to rise, many people, young and old, are struggling with feelings of anxiety and fear. Some are grieving the loss of a loved one; others are feeling lonely as they continue to isolate from friends and family. When Simeon held Jesus and passed on God’s blessing to him, he recognised signs of hope for the future and he joyfully declared that message. Now, more than ever, we need to hold on to the promise of hope and healing, and to pass it on to others: to trust that God is still shining his light into the darkness of suffering and fear. When we put our trust in him, he promises to be with us always – in life, in death – and on into the new, eternal life that Christ offers to share with us.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1 verse 5
May Christ the sun of righteousness shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path.
Our online Benefice Candlemas Service can be accessed from the Benefice website from 10.30am on Sunday 31st January until Saturday 6th February and we have a Live Service that day at St Swithun’s, Cheswardine at 10am.