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God Is For Everyone!

God Is For Everyone!

Candlemas is a word you might see on the page of your diary this month and wonder where it comes from or what it means. You might guess that it has something to do with candles, and you would be right about that, and you might also notice that it always comes on the same day in February, the second day of the month.

So what is it ? Candlemas is a festival of the church, a very old festival dating back to about the year 300 AD. It is sometimes called the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and refers to the story in Luke’s Gospel where Mary and Joseph take the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for a blessing, a bit like the same way people still bring their new baby to church for baptism today. And just like today when people greet a couple with a new baby, there were folks there waiting for them to share in their celebration. One of them was a prophet called Anna who had lived around the Temple for a very long time. Another was a man called Simeon who took the baby Jesus in his arms, saying these words; Lord, you are now dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel (Luke 2:35-40) It was Simeon’s way of blessing the couple and their baby and it must have been another reminder for them that Jesus was no ordinary child. Simeon and Anna add their voices to those of the shepherds and the angels to tell us, again, that this is God come to us in Jesus.

So, that’s the story, what about the candles? Through the Christmas season candles often symbolise the light of God’s love coming into the world. As is tells us in John’s Gospel “In Him was life and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). When it comes to Candlemas, which is the end of our Christmas celebrations, we recall that the light and the love that Jesus brings is not for ourselves alone, but to be shared with everyone and so the candles are lit and carried out of the church into the world. It is just a nice way of saying that the God who comes to us in Jesus is for everyone and our light and joy and hope can help spread his love around.

Very Rev. Alison J Simpson
St. Columba’s, Nairn