Mat’s February Letter

This time of year feels a bit full of Christian Festivals. We’ve had Christmas into Epiphany which ends with Candlemas on the 2nd February. Then on the 22nd we’ll begin Lent with Ash Wednesday; more of Lent in the next bulletin but what about Candlemas? Or to give it a clearer name the presentation of Christ at the temple. Luke 2:22-40Open Link in New Window tells us the story.
According to Jewish law (Leviticus 12Open Link in New Window & Exodus 13:12-15Open Link in New Window) a new baby had to be presented at the temple 40 days after his birth. Here a sacrifice was offered to redeem the first born male in remembrance of the great Exodus from Egypt. I guess it was also about dedicating a child to God in thankfulness for safe arrival.

Mary and Joseph arrive at the temple and meet two righteous and devout characters, Simeon and Anna. The Holy Spirit reveals to them both that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah.

This story is rich in meaning and significance.

One of the great lessons is that of patient reliance on God’s sovereignty and timing. We’re told that Simeon had been promised that he would see the Messiah before his death and that Anna was of great age. Anna had been fasting and praying daily for around 60 years! Now that’s patience. So often when we pray we seek an answer the same day, if not the same hour. And yet if we truly trust in God’s sovereignty we must also trust that his timing is perfect and that we will be given all that we need for any given moment. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean that all will feel easy, but it does mean that we can trust God for the present moment and also for the future.

This is especially true because we live in the knowledge of Jesus’ birth. We no longer wait for it but know that the light has come into the world and the darkness has not overcome it. On Candlemas (February 2nd), it used to be the tradition that a lit candle was placed in each house window to remind us of Simeon’s words that we have seen the light (2:32). Maybe you’d like to light a candle for yourself on that day, or any other day, and reflect on Jesus Christ’s coming into the world. What does that means for you in this place at this time?

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