This coming Saturday, the  2nd February the Christian Church celebrates Candlemas, the feast that recalls the Presentation of Christ in the temple and the delicate and graceful story of Simeon and Anna’s recognition of the hope for the world in this tiny child . [Luke 2 vs 22 to 40]. The feast stands as a hinge in the Christian year, as we leave behind the stories of the birth, baby, angels, shepherds and wise men and look forward to the shadow of the cross, to sorrow, pain, betrayal and death.

The poet Steve Turner put it brilliantly in his poem “Christmas is really for the children”

Christmas is really
for the children.
Especially for children
who like animals, stables,
stars and babies wrapped
in swaddling clothes.
Then there are wise men,
kings in fine robes,
humble shepherds and a
hint of rich perfume.

Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by
a cream filled egg.
It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, God
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of a nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chickens
and the first snowdrop
of spring.

Or they’d do better to
wait for a re-run of
Christmas without asking
too many questions about
what Jesus did when he grew up
or whether there’s any connection.

But as we do look ahead to those dark times, we are called to look again and even further and to know that out of the appalling event of the crucifixion, God brought about the redemption of the world He created, and in the power of the resurrection of Christ sets us all free to be fully human, fully forgiven and fully His.

Perhaps this Candlemas you might like to light a candle and remember the full story of Christ’s redeeming love and say the prayer of Simeon:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
your word has been fulfilled:
My own eyes have seen the salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel. Amen

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