Despite the cold, wet and windy weather we have had lately, it is lovely to see that signs of spring are beginning to emerge. There are already signs in the garden of new growth: early snowdrops and crocuses are appearing, daffodil shoots are rising boldly up into the cold air, hopefully about to add a splash of colour to the ground. I’m sure they will be welcome sight for many, as they bring hope of the spring to come, of new beginnings, rebirth and better warmer weather.
On February 2nd the church celebrates the festival of Candlemas which is considered to be one of the oldest Christian festivals, it celebrates the light that comes to banish the darkness. Candlemas is half-way between the shortest day and the spring equinox, (so hopefully lighter nights are not far away)!! Some people also believe it can predict the weather for the rest of winter.
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.
Candlemas was the day when people brought all the candles to be used throughout the year to church to be blessed. They were asking God’s protection on their homes and families for the coming year. The lights of Candlemas were a reminder of the light of Christ shining in the darkness, bringing hope in the midst of uncertain times.
We are reminded at the beginning of John’s Gospel that Jesus came to be a light in the darkness of this world and to shine out as a sign of God’s presence among us. ‘ The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.’ (John 1: 9)
At Candlemas we reflect upon the presentation of Christ in the Temple in Jerusalem, and the recognition by the elderly Simeon and Anna of Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. When Simeon encounters Jesus he declares: ‘Master, now you are 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 peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ (Luke 2:29-32)
Candlemas offers us the opportunity to look back over these past weeks of Christmastide, giving thanks to God for the gift of his son. Simeon sees that the child is the light to enlighten the nations, his words reveal that Jesus is the Messiah of all of God’s people.
Later in February on Racial Justice Sunday we are called to engage in the righteous struggle for racial justice for all. The Bible has a lot to say about justice because as God’s Word, it reflects God’s heart for justice. It can be argued that we should love justice because God does! Racism and racial discrimination are justice issues because they deny basic human dignity to women and men who are made in the image of God. They assume all are not equal before God and are not part of God’s family. Paul reminds us in Colossians “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Showing us very clearly that we are all equal before God.
This year Racial Justice Sunday is focussing on the three ‘R’s’ remembering the importance of racial justice; reflecting on human diversity and thanking God for it; responding by working to end injustice, racism and ignorance through prayer and action.
The coming of spring brings with it hope and the promise of new opportunities. So in February, think about your hopes for the future and the new life and joys that may come.
May you be filled with Christ’s grace and blessings in the coming month,