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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Curates Corner: May 2013 (Parish Magazine)

Curates Corner

As many of you are aware, I’ve recently come back from the Holy Land. I know it seemed like I was away for a long time, I’ve miss you all as well, but I only missed one Sunday (promise). I wouldn’t call it a holiday because of the type of group it was and some of the things we went to see, it was a pilgrimage. As well as all the holy sites you would expect to see on a trip like this, I also got to see many of the places that are not often seen by us in the west and a side of the troubles out there that are not often reported on.

I admit I went out there quite ignorant about the situation, and I didn’t know what to expect from this trip, but I can honestly say it was life changing. One traveller said that she went out there blank, but comes back an activist, and in many ways her feelings ring true for me.  

Alongside places like the Church of the Nativity, the Sea of Galilee, and the Mount of Olives, we also visited Sindyanna Women’s Organisation, Jeel al-Amal Boys’ Home (orphanage), Hope Secondary School in Beit Jala (who St Peters will be helping this quarter), Wi’Am who work in nonviolent conflict resolution, Aida Refugee Camp, St Matthews Anglican Church and clinic in Zababdeh, and we spoke with an Ecumenical Accompanier at the Separation Wall. We saw the effect conflict and separation has had, and the results of warfare and violence.

Many of these places are still with me at heart and I’m sure will remain with me. And I warn you all now to prepare for sermons where these people and places feature (I feel them brewing)! But seriously, I do look forward to being able to share with you some of these places and the stories of the people I met.

Among the violence and conflict there are voices of peace and hope. Many have not given up their hope of living peacefully within the Holy Land, and we join our prayers with theirs. I ask that you do pray for those Christians in the Holy Land, especially those who live in the West Bank and all those who are working for peace.

Curates Corner Jan 2013

Curates Corner

Firstly I would like to thank you all for being so generous with your sponsorship money for my Channel Swim. So far I have raised £525 and I still have a few pounds coming in, THANK YOU!

Secondly, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year.

I have always found New Year an odd time, where many stand with one foot in the past, and the other in the future. It is common practise to take up resolutions and to make a new start. Many find opportunity to start over and correct past wrongs, for others it is a time to take up something new and to better oneself, we make lists of things we will do, exercise more, learn a new skill, be nicer to others, and things we won’t do any longer, eat junk food, be lazy or rude and endeavour to stick to them for the year. But how many of the resolutions last? How many have we broken within the first few weeks of the year? And how do we feel about ourselves when this happens?

But why do we have to wait for New Year? Each and every day we have the opportunity for a new start, every moment of our lives is a fresh chance to start anew. This is because we have a God of love and compassion, of understanding and forgiveness.

‘If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9

We have a God that will aid us to do good, and forgive us when we do wrong. We are also told that: So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!’ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Every day, every moment is an opportunity for a new start. A fresh start where the past can be left in the past, and our future can be assured with the hope that Christ brings.

What resolutions have you made this year? Have you kept them this far? If not, do not worry because every day is a fresh start, if you only take the opportunity.

It is never too late to take up a new resolution. This year resolve to learn more about God and his will for you.

‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’. Lamentations 3:22-23