Last Saturday, I attended a get together hosted by, and for young families from Ascension with newborn babies and young children. It was a time for these many young families to connect, share stories, and build community. At least eight families were able to make it, and there were close to double that amount of babies and toddlers. It was a scene of joyous chaos; as the adults politely chatted about life, the kids ruled the party with their playing, laughing, and general cavorting in only the way a pack of children can do. They ran the show in the end, of course. What a joy to be with so many young families from Church of the Ascension, and to see how we are a parish that is growing and thriving. Last year was a record for parish baptisms...This year is looking to beat that record.
As the party wound down well past 5pm, I remarked to one of the mothers how there was still so much sunlight! She agreed with joy and relief that the light of the sun is indeed returning. By the end of January and the beginning of February, we can really start to see and feel the change of the season. And it's wonderful.
We humans hunger for light. We hunger for light both literally and spiritually. By this time of the year, it's safe to say that most of us are eagerly awaiting the return of the longer days and the warmer months. It's in our system. We need the vitamin D. But there is something spiritually deeper happening here as well. We want to remember that we are not left in the dark. We want to be reminded that we are not forgotten in a cold and lonely world. We want to see the face of God. We want to know this newborn Christ really is here among us.
Yesterday, February 2nd, was the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus in the Temple. It is a feast that commemorates the event that takes place in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2. Mary brings her new born son to the Temple, and he is revealed to the world as the Light of the world, the Christ. We celebrate this feast this coming Sunday, also known also as Candlemass. As we celebrate this feast in church, we will bless all of the candles that will be used in worship for the year to come; the candles on the altar, the Paschal Candle, the Advent candles, the votive candles, the handheld candles used at the Easter Vigil. And we do this to remember that the light of the world, the Christ, has been revealed to us. And we celebrate and bless this light as it comes into the world, and into our lives daily.
Like so many newborn children and young families, Candlemass reminds us of the hope that is in our midst. This feast reminds us that there is a light that never goes out. And we find it in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Song of Simeon from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2 is our song for this feast this Sunday. And I leave you with this sacred prayer of joy:
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Blessings on your weekend. And a happy Candlemass to all.
Yours faithfully in the newly revealed Christ,