It’s Candlemas tomorrow, 2nd February, 40 days after Christmas, when we remember Jesus being presented in the Temple according to the Law of Israel. It’s a moment when the child, whose identity the magi recognised at birth in their ‘epiphany’ moment, is now recognized by Simeon and Anna, who declare that He is both ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles’ and ‘the glory of God’s people Israel’. But Simeon’s final words to Jesus’ mother Mary in the temple point us away from Christmas and towards Easter: ‘“This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” Churches have traditionally blessed candles at Candlemas, recognising Jesus as the light to lighten the gentiles - the light of the world. And whilst it’s not a festival we tend to dwell on, it’s a turning point in the church calendar and helpfully turns our thoughts towards Lent and the journey to the cross. Here’s the Collect (special prayer) for Candlemas: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, light of the nations and glory of Israel: make your home among us, and present us pure and holy to your heavenly Father, our God, and our God. Amen.’
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