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Dear Friends,Someone asked me on Twelfth Night (5th January) whether it was alright to leave their nativity scene at home up a little longer rather than taking it down with the other Christmas decorations. This was because they wanted the wise men to arrive at the crib and be able to spend some time there after travelling and it would be the following day, Epiphany (6th January), when they would finally arrive at their destination having done a circuit of the living room during the Christmas season! The Church tradition is that the season of
Christmas and Epiphany does not end until Candlemas, 2nd February when we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which would have happened originally, according to the Jewish faith, 40 days after Jesus’ birth. Whilst we, in this country, traditionally remove Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night (or perhaps you like to take them down even sooner as they have become tired, dusty and you are a bit sick of seeing
them) Christian Church tradition in other countries encourages decorations to remain until Candlemas. With this thought in mind I felt it was quite appropriate to say that the nativity scene could remain in place until Candlemas if the wise men wanted to make the most of
their time at the manager worshipping Jesus!
Wikipaedia also tells me that many Christians including Anglicans bring candles into
church on Candlemas where they are blessed and then used throughout the rest of the year. This is not something that I am used to experiencing but it sounds interesting if we think about this in conjunction with the gospel reading set for the day. In this reading, Luke 2:22- 40, Simeon in the temple, takes Jesus in his arms, praises God and declares that in Jesus he has seen ‘salvation’ and ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory of your people Israel.’ Simeon in effect recognises Jesus as the Light of the World and I think lighting candles can help us to remember this.
Candlemas is a significant feast day in the Church calendar and this year we, as a deanery, are gathering together for worship on Sunday the 29th January 10.30am at St Mary the Virgin Church in Cleobury Mortimer. This service is the second deanery service in our Year of Unity and we will celebrate the Feast of Candlemas. It would be lovely for as many of us as possible to gather together for this occasion. I often see Candlemas as the ‘hinge day’ of the Christian year when we stop looking back to Christmas and the birth of our Saviour Jesus and start looking towards Lent, Holy Week and Easter and think about the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a day that links the life and death of Jesus. Whether or not, however, we manage to be at this deanery service perhaps this year we could each spend a little time on February 2nd remembering and celebrating Candlemas. Perhaps you would like to sit down, light a candle or a tea-light, read the gospel reading I talked about above and think about Jesus being brought to the temple and having his full potential recognised. Having done this it could be an opportunity to look back, on this ‘hinge day,’ to something that was particularly good or life-giving over the Christmas and Epiphany season. As you remember this then take time to enjoy it again in your memory and at the same time say thank you to God for it. Then you may choose to remember something that was not so good, or sad or painful and ask for Gods’ help with this situation or memory or, if needed, to ask for God’s forgiveness. After this, you may like to ask God to help with something you would like to do differently in the future. In these ways we can all use Candlemas as a hinge, looking back and to the future and use it as a day to give thanks to God as well as ask for God’s help.
Whatever you choose to do, I pray that it is a fruitful and helpful day for you and also that the season of Christmas and Epiphany that is just ending was a blessed time for you.