Paul Emmerson writes on how God gives us strength for today and hope for tomorrow.
My Anglican Chaplain colleague asked me this week if I was aware that it was the festival of ‘Candlemas’ on 2nd February!
You can probably guess as to my answer, as I wasn’t too sure what ‘Candlemas’ was!! So, when I asked him if it was a condition that you needed to speak with your GP about or was it a cream that you rubbed on 3x a day – you can imagine his frustration – ‘do those Pentecostals know anything’?????
I do know that Candlemas is a Christian festival remembered annually on February 2. It celebrates three occasions according to Christian tradition, from Luke 2:
- the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple;
- Jesus’ first entry into the temple
- in the Catholic Church, it celebrates the Virgin Mary’s purification.
My Anglican friend then asked me if I was aware that snowdrops are known as ‘Candlemas Bells’?? (I hadn’t realised I’d be working with Alan Titchmarsh for the day)!!!
Usually, around this time of the year, the green shoots of snowdrops begin to peep above the soil. Hopefully, they will be in full bloom in time for Candlemas at the beginning of February.
Snowdrops give hope that spring is coming after a long, cold winter. At Candlemas, some Christian churches rejoice and celebrate that Jesus has come to be the light of the world and ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles’ (Luke 2:32), so that we can know more of the love of Jesus. (Churches would bless their candles on this day too – hence, ‘Candlemas).’
The verses from Luke 2:22-40 describe a wonderful event when Jesus was 40 days old; when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for the first time. They were keeping the Jewish law for three ceremonies: the purification of the mother (Leviticus 12:2-8), the redemption of the firstborn and the presentation of the child to the service of God. It was also a very special day for Simeon and Anna – two unsung heroes, in my opinion, of the ‘Christmas’ narrative!
Simeon and Anna are wonderful examples of hope, waiting many years, trusting that they would see Jesus, who came to bring salvation and reveal God’s love to the world. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon ‘that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.’ (v. 26) That day, ‘moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts’ (v. 27) and recognised that Jesus was the One he had been waiting and hoping to see. Anna recognised Jesus too, after sixty years of waiting, hoping and praying in the temple when she prayed much and hoped for the coming of Jesus. Anna’s hope turned to joy when she recognised Jesus.
Anna shared the good news as she ‘spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem’ (v. 38). As a Church and followers of Jesus we share the good news of the love and presence of Jesus; giving hope and reassurance; and if there is ever a time when that ‘hope’ was needed, it’s today!
Jesus came as a light in the darkness, and the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness reminds us that God gives us ‘strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow’ – now that is one thing this Chaplain does know!!!