The Christmas season finally ends on February 2nd Candlemass or as it is also known ‘The presentation of Christ in the temple.’ It is a transferable feast so at St Paul’s it was kept on January 29th the nearest Sunday. On that day at the end of the 10 am service there is a procession to the back of church where we remind ourselves who it is we have been celebrating during the Christmas and Epiphany seasons. It is the Christ, our Saviour, the light of the world and to remind us of the light we each hold a candle as we say the words of the Nunc Dimittis those words spoken by Simeon when he saw the 40 day old baby Jesus and knew he was looking at the long promised Messiah. Let me remind you of those words, in the wonderfully poetic Kings James Translation.
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart
in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face
of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to
be the glory of thy people Israel.
Then we ask God to help us to live Christ’s life, to help us to be thankful for God’s gift of His Son. We ask God to help us to trust God’s promises, help us to never forsake the light of Christ but to be willing enter into the Easter mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. And we ask that we might shine as lights in the world.
As we move through February toward Lent which begins this year on March 1st we will mark by service at 7pm which will include the imposition of Ashes, I ask you to consider what you will do to shine as a light in the world. Perhaps between now and the start of Lent you could light a candle each day and remind yourself that you are a light for Christ and pray for guidance about how God wants you to shine for him, asking which bit of the world does he want you to light up?
Which people in his world does he want you to enlighten with his Gospel message? Which bits of this difficult and often unjust world does he want you to help bring justice and peace to. Have no doubt that you are called to help spread the light of Christ and his Gospel message. Spend the next four weeks thinking about what you can do and then in Lent start to start to get yourself into the good habit of being a light to the gentiles and help to light up the dark places that are still waiting to be shown the Christ.
Yours in Christ