The Reverend Sharon Grenham-Toze
Tomorrow the Christian Church celebrates the Feast of Candlemas, which, traditionally, is the final day of the Christmas celebration. Most of us, of course, have long taken down the decorations, but Candlemas is perhaps a welcome reminder of the joy and sparkle we were enjoying a few weeks ago. After all, there’s still a way to go before the warmth of Spring. In fact Candlemas is the mid-point between the dates of the Winter and Spring Solstice, and in pre-Christian times it was known as the Festival of Light, looking forward to the return of the sun.
There are a whole host of proverbs and customs around this festival, with maybe the best well known being the American ‘Groundhog Day.’ So the tradition goes, if this little marmot-type creature the groundhog peeps out of its hole and finds a bright sunny day, it will scurry back in, as it means there’s more wintry weather to come. A cloudy or wet day will bring the groundhog out for a stroll, as it means Spring is on the way.
On this day as well, the Church marks the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple on this day – the day when Simeon, upon seeing the baby, is supposed to have uttered the words which is known as the Nunc Dimittis – now let thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. It’s this coming of God’s light and salvation into the world which Christians have been celebrating since Christmas.
God of light, in this world which often seems very dark indeed, we pray that all people of faith and goodwill would find a way to bring hope and warmth and life where it’s needed the most. Whatever the coming days bring, remind us often of the needs of others, and help us to work towards peace among people and nations. Amen.