Candlemas Reflection for Abbey News

From one hymn of praise to another. In the Christmas edition of Abbey News Fr. Kevin reflected on Mary’s song ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’ (Luke 1: 46-47) repeated every evening in countless different settings by our choirs. And for this edition, as we celebrate Candlemas, we have another hymn, also repeated every evening, in countless different settings by our choirs, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word’ (Luke 2: 29).

The song of Simeon otherwise known as the Nunc Dimittis is a calmer, sombre song of praise then that of Mary’s. It’s a song of fulfilment and of a hope satisfied. Simeon, described as a righteous and devout man, had waited for many years in hopeful expectation. He’d waited for the anointed, the chosen one from God. He’d waited, with God’s assurance that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah.

The words are so familiar to many of us that it is easy to lose the impact of them and the experience the Simeon went through. He has waited for so long and, being human, he probably despaired at times. Would God’s promised Saviour truly arrive in his lifetime? Perhaps he’d just imagined that God had spoken to him. But, whatever his feelings, he kept on waiting faithfully.

Candlemas is a pivotal celebration in the churches year. It’s a time when we can look back on what has been and look ahead to what will be. In the church that means looking behind us to Christmas and the celebrations of the birth of Christ, and ahead to Christ’s passion, and the promises of Easter.

And for us?

There is certainly a lot we can learn from Simeon’s patient, faithful waiting. It is easy to hold onto our faith when God feels close and his plan is very clear. But we all go through times when our vision of God fades, and there are times when all we feel is His absence. When prayer feels like a waste of energy and time. It is at these times when we can turn to Simeon and take his example of holding on day by day, watching , with no apparent signs of change, in the expectation that God is about to act.

We can also remember and rejoice that Simeon’s faith was rewarded by the sight, sound and touch of the infant Christ and was given a time to act.

‘Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what is customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…then Simeon blessed them.’ (Luke 2. 27-28 & v34a)

For each of us there are times for waiting and there are times for action, and Simeon gives us an example of this crossover, this move to action. As we approach Lent, many of us will make this transition and act; to join home groups and Lent courses, to vowing to make changes in our lives by the giving up of luxurious treats for a period of time, to raise money for worthy causes, or to start preparations for confirmation.

What will your action be?

From one hymn of praise to another. In the Christmas edition of Abbey News Fr. Kevin reflected on Mary’s song ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’ (Luke 1: 46-47) repeated every evening in countless different settings by our choirs. And for this edition, as we celebrate Candlemas, we have another hymn, also repeated every evening, in countless different settings by our choirs, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word’ (Luke 2: 29).

The song of Simeon otherwise known as the Nunc Dimittis is a calmer, sombre song of praise then that of Mary’s. It’s a song of fulfilment and of a hope satisfied. Simeon, described as a righteous and devout man, had waited for many years in hopeful expectation. He’d waited for the anointed, the chosen one from God. He’d waited, with God’s assurance that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah.

The words are so familiar to many of us that it is easy to lose the impact of them and the experience the Simeon went through. He has waited for so long and, being human, he probably despaired at times. Would God’s promised Saviour truly arrive in his lifetime? Perhaps he’d just imagined that God had spoken to him. But, whatever his feelings, he kept on waiting faithfully.

Candlemas is a pivotal celebration in the churches year. It’s a time when we can look back on what has been and look ahead to what will be. In the church that means looking behind us to Christmas and the celebrations of the birth of Christ, and ahead to Christ’s passion, and the promises of Easter.

And for us?

There is certainly a lot we can learn from Simeon’s patient, faithful waiting. It is easy to hold onto our faith when God feels close and his plan is very clear. But we all go through times when our vision of God fades, and there are times when all we feel is His absence. When prayer feels like a waste of energy and time. It is at these times when we can turn to Simeon and take his example of holding on day by day, watching , with no apparent signs of change, in the expectation that God is about to act.

We can also remember and rejoice that Simeon’s faith was rewarded by the sight, sound and touch of the infant Christ and was given a time to act.

‘Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what is customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…then Simeon blessed them.’ (Luke 2. 27-28 & v34a)

For each of us there are times for waiting and there are times for action, and Simeon gives us an example of this crossover, this move to action. As we approach Lent, many of us will make this transition and act; to join home groups and Lent courses, to vowing to make changes in our lives by the giving up of luxurious treats for a period of time, to raise money for worthy causes, or to start preparations for confirmation.

What will your action be?

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Published by

sallyjjones

Minor Canon Youth Chaplain at St Albans Cathedral. Dog owner, historian, technology geek, pilgrim.

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