After the flurry of activity last week, it seems I have no goings on to announce for this week. Both dinners – Robbie Burns at St. George’s and the roast beef at Christ Church – were very successful and many thanks are extended to all who supported these dinners in every which way.
A Liturgical Note for You: The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple is a Holy Day coming up this Thursday, February 2nd. It may be more popularly known as Candlemas. This is NOT a moveable feast and so, if you do not have a worship service on the actual day of February 2, you will not celebrate it at all. Here are a few interesting things about this day:This is the day when Mary went to the Temple for her purification rite, 40 days after giving birth to Jesus. Simeon takes Jesus into his arms and names him “the light to enlighten the Gentiles” and so, fittingly, this day eventually also became the day when the candles, to be used in the church throughout the coming year, were dedicated to God’s use. Since this is a Holy Day marking one of the major events in the life of Christ, the liturgical colour for today is white.
On Candlemas night, many people place lighted candles in their windows at home. Like some other Christian festivals, Candlemas draws some of its elements from Paganism: In pre-Christian times, it was the festival of light. This ancient festival marked the midpoint of winter, half way between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring equinox.
There are a couple of superstitions to go along with Candlemas: Some people lit candles to scare away evil spirits on the dark winter nights. Our modern “Groundhog Day” has its roots in Candlemas as well. People believed that the weather on Candlemas predicted the weather for the rest of the winter. “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another fight. If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, Winter won’t come again.”
Other superstitions include: if a candle drips on one side when carried in church on Candlemas, this denotes a death of a family member during the year. If someone brings snowdrops into the house on Candlemas day it symbolises a parting or death. (According to these superstitions, death seems inevitable, doesn’t it?)
Any Christmas decorations not taken down by Twelfth Night (January 5th) should be left up until Candlemas Day and then taken down. This is when Queen Elizabeth II always took down her decorations, by the way.
A Candlemas Prayer
Glorious God, Simeon names Jesus “a light to enlighten the Gentiles.” So may we be reminded by the light of the candle that Jesus is the light of salvation for the whole world, shining into the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Guide us to bring his light into the world, inspire us by your Holy Spirit to recognize him who is the glory of Israel and the light for all nations, your Son Jesus Christ who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God before all time, in our time, and always. Amen.
Bless this (these) candle(s) to our use, O Lord. May they be your light in the darkness, hope for the weary, and a sign of your reconciling love in the world. Amen.
If you are preparing a worship service for The Presentation of the Lord this Thursday, you’ll find what you need on p.401 of the BAS. Plus, I’ve attached intercessions and a blessing you may wish to use:
For Your Devotions
Monday, January 30th is the commemoration of Charles Stuart, King of England and Scotland, beheaded in 1649. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and, from the start, butted heads with parliament (in fact, he dissolved parliament and made his own decisions quite regularly). We all know this could never end well (and having top advisors who persecuted Puritans certainly didn’t help)…The end result was civil war. Oliver Cromwell captured Charles and tried to force him to sign a law abolishing bishops. Charles refused and for this and other accusations of “high treason”, Charles was beheaded. Throughout it all, Charles remained a staunch supporter of the Church of England. To read more: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/92.html
Thursday, February 2nd is the Holy Day of The Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. See above. In the Eastern Orthodox Church this day is called “Hypapante” (meeting) because of the meeting with old Simeon. Simeon takes baby Jesus into his arms and sings praises to God for having met the promised Saviour. Simeon says he will now be able to die in peace. In a foreshadowing of the suffering to come, Simeon tells Mary that a sword will pierce her soul as well. To read more: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Candlemas