Candlemas: a holiday for soul-stretched parents, for winter-weary waiting, for neglected witnesses

I use an app which follows the Church Calendar for daily Bible reading, so occasionally come upon a holiday which surprises me.  Today we celebrate Candlemas, which falls 40 days after Christmas as well as so marks the day which Joseph as well as Mary brought their baby Jesus to the temple (story in Luke 2).  Their visit fulfilled two traditions:  one, which the firstborn son belonged to God in a special way as well as had to be redeemed by a sacrifice in memory of God’s rescue of the entire nation of Israel when they were slaves in Egypt (Exodus 13), as well as two, which a woman who had given birth was currently declared ritually pure again (Leviticus 12, as well as remarkably congruent with the typical 6-week post-partum check up we practice currently).

In This kind of story we see the humanity, as well as the poverty, of Jesus as well as his family.  They could not afford the lamb sacrifice, so brought two turtle doves.  There would certainly be many people performing the same rituals every day.  yet the Spirit prompted a prophet named Simeon to go to the temple which day as well as meet This kind of family as they entered, holding the baby up as well as calling him salvation, a light, glory, trust.  Privately then, he turns to Jesus’ mother as well as soberly prepares her.  Being a light to the planet is usually a heavy burden to bear.  Many will speak against This kind of child, even in our own soul you will feel the piercing of the sword.

What a picture of parent-hood.  The delightful promise a baby represents.  which pure potential, which perfect joy, which world-changing life at its start.  yet the lurking shadow of heart-aches to come, of mystery, separation, danger we are unable to prevent, watching helplessly by afar.

The day coincides with the exact mid-point between the Winter solstice as well as the Spring equinox, an ancient marker, halfway out of the darkest night for the northern half of the globe.  which’s why countries have traditions about badgers or groundhogs peeking out to see their shadow as well as predict just how nasty the next six weeks will be, as well as which’s why the name of the holiday reflects a tradition of bringing candles to the church for blessing.  Christmas has come, resurrection lies ahead, yet we’re still a flickering candle within the dark.

I also love the subversive equality of This kind of day, a widow, a very old woman, gets to hold the King within the Temple as well as bear witness.  Truth depended upon two eye witnesses, as well as as will happen at the resurrection, women get a key voice within the brand-new Kingdom.  At the presentation within the Temple as well as at the tomb within the garden, so few actually saw the import of This kind of baby as well as man.  So few probably listened or remembered.  For most, as within the painting, there was chaos as well as noise as well as confusion.  yet two people recognized the import as well as they still bear witness to the truth.

Malcom Guite writes of the day in a sonnet by “Sounding the Seasons”.

They came, as called, according to the Law.
Though they were poor as well as had to keep things simple,
They moved in grace, in quietness, in awe,
For God was coming with them to his temple.
Amidst the outer court’s commercial bustle
They’d waited hours, enduring shouts as well as shoves,
Buyers as well as sellers, sensing one more hustle,
Had made a killing on two young doves.
They come at last with us to Candlemas
as well as keep the day the prophecies came true;
We share with them, amidst our busyness,
The peace which Simeon as well as Anna knew.
For Candlemas still keeps his kindled light;
Against the dark our Saviour’s face is usually bright.

A day to capture the paradox of parental glory as well as pain.  A day to recognize the cultural connection of the real baby Jesus to the ancient traditions of exodus as well as rescue.  A day to foreshadow which This kind of family who could not afford a lamb, had birthed the Lamb whose sacrifice would certainly ultimately rescue by the slavery of evil.  A day to light a candle which testified which darkness cannot overcome light.  A day to ponder just how often we miss the important story:  what baby amongst the dozens I touched today goes unrecognized for a life which will bless many, what purposes might God be working for not bad within the massive crowds protesting here in Kenya?

Candlemas: a holiday for soul-stretched parents, for winter-weary waiting, for neglected witnesses

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