On Sunday in the parish we celebrated The Presentation of Christ in the Temple: also known as Candlemas. We heard again the account of Jesus being brought to the temple by his young parents, to be met by Simeon and aged Anna: expectant, hopeful and looking for this baby who would be a light for all people.
As is traditional at this time of year, we brought candles and lights from home to be blessed and taken away again: a sign of the light of Christ that each of us carries out into the world. As we lit our candles and switched off the lights around the crib, I spoke about the significance of what we were doing. What follows is an adapted and developed version of what I said in that moment.
As December nights grew colder, darker
So we huddled around this place
Waiting for the light to glow:
Faint, at first –
Then a crescendo to full brilliance
As the promise of a saviour came to pass.
We knelt here in worship with the shepherds
And sang his praises with the Christmas angels.
We basked in Joseph’s quiet wonder
And we heard Mary’s joyous yes.
We brought gifts to mark the arrival:
Crafted woollen sheep
Tears of loss
We made room here for the lost and the forgotten
Shepherd rubbed shoulder with father as we placed our own people around the manger.
Always room for more.
We watched in anticipation
Long after the world ditched Christmas
Sharing a star with far away travellers
And claiming their homage to this child as our own:
A light for all people.
And now we gather here
One last time.
And we switch off the manger’s light.
Not because he is gone.
Not because it is over.
Not because we are done.
But because he is here.
Because it has begun.
Because we are called.
The light that began in this crib
Is the light we now hold in our hands
As we take its blessings back
To home and to heart.
But it doesn’t stay there.
Take it: take it in your words, your actions, your care
And shine it into the bleakest corners of this world.
Take it and illuminate your heart as you light up your home
So that you become bearers of the manger’s light
In the coldest, shadowy places of life.
Take it, and know that you are blessed
And will bless
And will grow
And will go
Onwards, down darkest paths
As people who carry this light.
God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and has given us a place with the saints in light.
You have received the light of Christ; walk in this light all the days of your life.
Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father.