Sunday 31 January Presentation of Christ

Candlemas

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This Sunday we are celebrating the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (or Candlemas)

Candlemas is celebrated on 2 February – see our post here with ideas for a Quiet Day for you to hold at home

There are no services in our churches at this time to protect our staff, congregation and volunteers

We are are holding a service of Morning Praise at 10am on Zoom. This will be led by Rev’d Caroline Husband.

For details on how to join us sign up for our e-newsletter on this page which comes out each Thursday or contact us

Collect for the Presentation of Christ

Almighty and ever-living God,
clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,
in substance of our flesh:
grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts,
by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Readings for the Presentation of Christ

Malachi 3: 1 – 5

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Psalm 24: 7 – end

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory.

Hebrews 2: 14 – end

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

When to the Temple Mary Went – Eccard

Luke 2: 22 – 40

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo by Peter Aschoff on Unsplash

Reflection

Luke 2:22-41

I remember when I was in the sixth form at school, and at an interview with the career’s advisor, he said to me: Are you going to follow in your father’s footsteps? My father was a priest, and at that time I had no intention of following in his footsteps! Little did I know at the time that his words were to be prophetic.

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for the Jewish ritual for new-born babies, they have a strange and wonderful encounter with two prophets, Simeon and Anna. They both make prophecies about Jesus which must have amazed and troubled them. Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, sees this encounter with Jesus as the culmination of his years of waiting and praying in the temple. Now that he has seen Jesus, the Messiah, he can die in peace.  He has seen salvation in the flesh of Jesus, the one who has come to save the world. He blesses Mary and Joseph, who are amazed at his words, and goes on to say that the child is destined for the falling and rising of many…

These words made me think. I expect we are used to the phrase rise and fall as in the rise and fall of an empire, for example. It is the way things tend to happen. For Jesus, it is fall and rise. When you think about it, this is what happens to him and to his followers. This prophecy is seen to be true in Jesus’ life and death. He is opposed by many, as Simeon goes on to say. Many people turn away from Jesus’ words and teaching, finding it too difficult and challenging. Even his closest friends turn away when it gets really tough, like Peter and Judas. And on the face of it, Jesus’ own arrest and crucifixion look like he is a failure. Jesus falls on the way to the cross, and his death on the cross looks like the end.

We know it isn’t though. He rises again on the third day, triumphing over sin and death, and thus offering new life to all who believe and trust in him.  His disciples too, after his death and resurrection are then filled with the Holy Spirit themselves and witness to Jesus’ resurrection and a new movement is formed: the church, which spreads all over the world.

Mary must have been cut to the heart at Simeon’s words, and yet his words were proved to be true. For us too, as followers of Jesus, the same applies. In order for us to be raised again, we too have to fall. As Jesus says in John’s gospel: I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The one who loves his life will lose it, while the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25). No one ever said the Christian life would be easy. It was costly for Jesus, and it is costly for us. During these difficult times in our lives and in the world, we are encouraged and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit and knowing the risen Christ with us in our daily lives.

May God bless you through this week.

Rebecca Harris