Rev Olwen Woolcock

The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas) 31st January 2021

The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas) 31st January 2021

The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas)   31st January 2021

Service Video

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Order of Service

Good Morning everybody.

Good Morning everybody. Welcome to our service for Candlemas this morning. The Feast of the presentation of Christ in the temple. This Feast is still a major feast in the church, a festival of light, though sadly few people today understand its significance. I want to thank Rosemary Desforges and Peter and Pat Bisseker for taking part in this service. You might like to find a candle to light during this service. We begin with the hymn, ‘Thou Whose Almighty Word.’

HYMN Thou whose Almighty word

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

The Lord of glory be with you.

The Lord bless you.

Preparation

Dear friends, forty days ago we celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now we recall the day on which he was presented in the Temple, when he was offered to the Father and shown to his people. As a sign of his coming among us, his mother was purified, as we now come to him for cleansing. In their old age Simeon and Anna recognized him as their Lord, as we today sing of his glory. We celebrate both the joy of his coming and his searching judgement, looking back to the day of his birth and forward to the coming days of his passion.

Prayers of Penitence

Hear the words of our Saviour Jesus Christ:
‘I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me shall never walk in darkness
but shall have the light of life.’
Let us therefore bring our sins into his light
and confess them in penitence and faith.

God be gracious to us and bless us,
and make your face shine upon us:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May your ways be known on the earth,
your saving power among the nations:
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

You, Lord, have made known your salvation,
and reveal your justice in the sight of the nations:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

GLORY TO GOD

Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Father.
Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Father.

To him be glory forever.
To him be glory forever.

Alleluia, amen.
Alleluia, amen. Alleluia, amen.  Alleluia, amen.

Glory to God, glory to God, Son of the Father….

Glory to God, glory to God, glory to the Spirit….

The Collect
Let us pray that we may know and share the light of Christ.

Almighty and ever-living God,
clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,
in substance of our flesh:
grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts,
by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen

Old Testament Reading

Malachi 3:1-5

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

New Testament Reading

Hebrews 2:14-end

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.

HYMN:  Longing for light during which the candles are lit.

Prayers with the Candles [holding the candles]

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe.
You make our darkness to be light.
For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light.
Blessed be God for ever.

Lord God, the springing source of everlasting light,
pour into the hearts of your faithful people
the brilliance of your eternal splendour,
that we, who by these kindling flames
light up this temple to your glory,
may have the darkness of our souls dispelled,
and so be counted worthy to stand before you
in that eternal city where you live and reign,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever.
Amen.

CHANT: Within our darkest night – UUSM Choir

Today old Simeon proclaims Christ
as the Light of the Nations and the Glory of Israel.
Alleluia! Praise to Christ, the Light of the world!

Gospel Reading

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke
Glory to you O Lord.

Luke 2:22-40

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Here we rejoice with faithful Simeon and Anna.
May we also find the Lord in his temple
and trust in God’s eternal promises.

Here we greet the Light of the world.
May we, who now extinguish these candles,
never forsake the light of Christ.
[The candles are blown out]

Sermon

Candlemas Sermon 2020  

Snowdrops for Candlemas! That’s the Ketton tradition I’ve been told. I didn’t know that snowdrops were connected with Candlemas but now I’ve discovered they are known as Candlemas bells and I found this little couplet

“The Snowdrop, in purest white array,
First rears her head on Candlemas day.” 

The point is that Candlemas, now an overlooked feast, which nobody outside the church has heard of – falls half way between the winter and spring equinox and was once a significant moment in the rhythm of the year with its own traditions, and folklore. The snowdrops blooming in ancient churchyards are part of that tradition.

Its proper name is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and it celebrates the final story of the epiphany season – another encounter, another moment of revelation and recognition – another occasion when the significance of Jesus and who Jesus is becomes clear.

Mary and Joseph are also people of tradition. They are doing what the Law requires, and the law represents the covenant between God and his people Israel. They stand within that covenant and so forty days after the birth of Jesus they go to present their male child at the temple in Jerusalem and make an offering as part of the ritual of purification after a birth. 

They are poor. The offering of the turtle doves is the offering of the poor. Here is a poor family of no significance and an old man and an old woman – and in their meeting God’s wonderful purpose is made known.

Kept as a feast since the 6th century – Candlemas is a Festival of Light – because of Simeon’s prophecy as he gazes upon the infant Jesus – that he will be a ‘light to lighten the gentiles.’  It was the day on which the people brought a candle into church to be blessed and then kept it in the house as a reminder of God’s blessing upon them and their families. Hence it was a Candle Mass – it was a moment to mark.

So put your candle in a place where you can remind yourself that however dark our world seems at the moment, the truth is that Jesus is the light of the world.

A festival of light – and also a festival of hope. A Feast and a celebration of hope. Thank God – because hope is what we need at the moment.   

The voices I hear on the radio are troubled voices. The endless questioning of whether this decision or that decision as regards the pandemic is the right one. The desire for proof that this action or that action will work. Poof which it is impossible to give. Then there are the voices of cynicism, rooted in fear; disbelief in in the existence of COVID, distrust in a vaccine. Let alone the voices of weariness and sadness, anxiety and suffering and underlying all of this is the daily announcement of the numbers of infections and COVID deaths.

Negativity and cynicism and fear – it’s a lot to be bombarded with day by day and we have to be careful how much we listen to – for the sake of our own wellbeing.  The voices that we hear through social media and on the television and radio reflect the rootlessness of our culture and the lack of faith, the lack of a foundation to many people’s lives.  

Negativity and cynicism and fear are not God’s way – hope is God’s way – which comes with prayer. The old man, Simeon is not a cynic. Even though he lives in Jerusalem under Roman rule, his life is not coloured by negativity and fear. The foundation for Simeon’s life is faith and his choice is prayer – prayer for the consolation of Israel – prayers for the rescue and healing of Israel – God’s chosen nation and people – and with the prayer comes hope.

In his prayer Simeon is moved by the Holy Spirit of God to enter the temple. And because of his expectation, the hope that is within him, he sees – deeply – the significance of the baby within the woman’s arms. Simeon recognises the child this young couple have brought to the temple as God’s hope not only for Israel, but for the world. Simeon is given sight and insight and his hope is rewarded.

And in the same way the prophet Anna has made devotion to God the priority of her life. She spends her days and nights in the temple, in prayer and fasting and consequently in hope and in trust, because that is where prayer takes us. Hope is the result of a faithful heart. Anna is immersed in God and in God’s ways; and so, she too is drawn to the child and prophesies concerning the child and the redemption of Israel. The baby is the hope of her eighty-four years.

And Mary and Joseph; turning up at the temple in obedience to the law to present this child which they know is special – have their hopes met too.  The significance of the child must surely have seemed unreal to them at times and yet here are others who acknowledge and confirm to them –as the shepherds did – that the child is God’s gift to the world. The gift of hope.  Hope for then, hope for now – a hope which stands in stark contrast to the fearful rootlessness of our culture.

A hope which belies cynicism, doubt and unbelief.  This is a challenge for us who follow Christ. We are concerned, we are worried but to remain in that place and not see beyond it, is to deny the possibilities of God and God’s Spirit at work. Simeon and Anna saw beyond their current circumstances. The vaccine is a symbol and sign of that hope – but it is not the sum of our hope. Our hope is in Christ and the life that we have in him. Our foundation is our faith. What defines us is our relationship to God, our faith and our trust in a creator God who loves us and our belief in Jesus as God’s son and our Saviour.   

Candlemas is a festival of hope as well as light – we are invited through this gospel passage to recognise, as Simeon did, the gift of hope which is in Christ. We are called to live in a different way to the world around us, with a different outlook to the voices heard in the media – to live the way of faith and prayer which makes us open to that hope in our lives and our communities and our world. Christ is the hope of the nations.  

May your candles be a reminder of that hope too.

Prayer of Intercession
Candlemas Prayers
We pray to God the Father through Christ who is our light and our life.

A prayer for the church
Father God, you sent our Lord Jesus to be acclaimed as the glory of Israel.
We are your people, called to serve and worship you.
Look with mercy on your church, guide your church in right paths
that we may know the tasks to which we are called,
and strengthen us, for we know that it is only in your power
that we are able to fulfil your purposes.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

A prayer for ourselves
Simeon was filled with hope when he recognised the presence of Jesus,
God had fulfilled his promise.
So dear Lord, we pray that we too would have lives open to the awareness of your presence. 
Enable us to carry with us through our daily lives the light of your presence.
May we fear no perils or dangers, knowing and trusting that since you walk with us
there is nothing of which we need to be afraid.
Give us a willingness to speak out against evil in all of its forms
and to be prepared to stand alongside those who have voices which are not heard
above the clamour of self-interest.
Enable our lives to be animated by your love for us
that we would find it impossible not to desire to be used in your service.
May our care for the needs of others be energetic, generous and considerate.  
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

A Prayer for all the people of our world
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world,
you transform the darkness of human lives with the light of your salvation.
So, we pray that your transforming light would drive out darkness and fear
and bring hope to the lives of those who do not know your presence with them.
 
We pray for places in our world where there is anger and bitterness,
where the demands of justice are obscured by individual, national and racial selfishness.
We ask Lord Christ that your light would penetrate those dark places
which cause people to hate and transform fear into trust.
That the world would awake from the darkness of winter
and come into the dawn of your presence.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

A Prayer for those in need
Lord Jesus Christ, for our sake you became poor,
you suffered and endured pain in human flesh.
Look with pity on those who suffer, be merciful to those who are in need.
We pray for the broken hearted that you would bind up their sorrows
We pray for the sick, that you would heal their infirmities.
We pray for the lonely, that in you they would discover the perfect friend.
We pray for the bereaved that in the midst of unfathomable loss
they would know the depths of your love.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which nor darkness can quench.
we light a candle to symbolise the light of Christ, which eternally shines and brings hope.
 
May the souls of all the faithful departed by the mercy of God rest in peace and rise in glory.
Merciful Father,
Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

ANTHEM: Nunc Dimittis

The Peace

In the tender mercy of our God,
the dayspring from on high has broken upon us,
to give light to those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Although we’re apart let us hold one another in the peace of Christ in a moment of prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our saviour has taught us

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.  
Amen

The Blessing
Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
 fill you with radiance and scatter the darkness from your path. Christ, the Sun of Righteousness,
gladden your eyes and warm your heart.
Christ, the Dayspring from on high,
draw near to guide your feet into the way of peace.
And the blessing..
Amen

HYMN: Lord the light of your love is shining

Dismissal

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
Thanks be to God.

————-

Faithful Vigil Ended played by Played by Melanie Plumley on her Sixsmith organ


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Barclays Bank Stamford
The account is in the name of Ketton Parochial Church Council
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