|Thank you God – you’ve answered my prayers!” These were the words spoken by Simeon as he scooped the baby Jesus into his ancient, gnarled arms. Simeon, was a righteous man who had been waiting for many, many years on a promise from God, that he would not die until he had seen the Saviour of the World appear – now he could die peacefully. Jesus’ parents Mary and Joseph, looked on, possibly bemused. There had been so much about this baby’s birth that had been strange and unusual.
They had brought the infant Jesus to the Jerusalem Temple to make the customary offerings for him. Now this elderly, mysterious man was declaring that their son Jesus, whom he cradled affectionately in his arms, was God’s long-promised Messiah, the person destined to be a Light for the people of all Nations, showing them the way back to a loving relationship with God. Then they were joined by the very elderly prophetess Anna, who declared to all around that this baby was indeed God’s salvation
The picture shown to the right is of one of the stained glass windows in St Etheldreda’s church. It depicts the scene in the Temple, with Simeon holding the baby Jesus and the prophetess Anna to his right. Mary is portrayed holding a Lily—a flower often associated with her, symbolising purity. In her other hand she holds two doves which would have been offered as the required sacrifice.
This scene is remembered as the church celebrates the feast of Candlemas, which falls on February 2nd – forty days after Christmas Day. For most of us, our Christmas decorations were packed away long ago on Twelfth Night, but in some countries, the tradition is to keep decorations up and the Nativity scene on display, until this feast day.
|Some churches have a tradition at Candlemas of blessing all the candles that are to be used in worship the next year. In some countries people place a lighted candle in their house window to mark the celebration and to remember that Jesus was born to be the Light of the World.
Later in February, we celebrate Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lent period. At St Ethedreda’s Church, during Lent, we will be holding a day-time course on Tuesdays which will last for five weeks. The course is called: #LiveLent: Let your Light Shine. We will be studying the Gospel of John and thinking about ways in which Jesus is a light for the world. We will be reflecting on how we can carry Jesus’ message of light in the darkness to others.
For further information about the Lent course, which is open to both church and non-church members, please contact St Etheldreda’s Church Office: firstname.lastname@example.org