January 30, 2020 by Jesse Lebus
St. Luke’s, friends and family:
Super Bowl Sunday. Groundhog Day. The Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. February 2nd is going to be a busy day. The Presentation and Groundhog Day always falls on the 2nd of February, but that day only falls on Sunday about once every five or six years.
So, this week we’ll find out if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, we’ll bless the candles at church, and then go home to turn on the game and watch the showdown between the two football teams. I really don’t even know which teams. San Francisco? And wait...bless the candles?
The feast of the Presentation marks the moment in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus’ parents bring him to the temple in Jerusalem. Once there the baby is immediately recognized as the Messiah by Simeon and Anna, two devout and righteous elders. Simeon proclaims that Jesus will be a light to enlighten even the gentiles. In other words, a light for the whole world. A light for the nations.
A light for every single person. The rhythm of the church year, with its schedule of feasts and fasts, seasons, colors and changes in words and songs, has been set in motion to help us embody and internalize our faith. The feast of the Presentation is also called Candlemas and the practice of blessing candles is way to help us remember how our lives as Christians are reflected in the light and warmth of these often overlooked liturgical devices.
A lit candle hangs in front of the tabernacle in the Sanctuary as a sign that behind that small locked door resides the real presence of Christ. The Paschal candle, lit at Easter time and present for Baptisms and other occasions represents the first dawn at the beginning of creation and the light made known in Christ’s resurrection. On the altar, the two candles bring reverence and solemnity to the service. They mark the altar as unique and set apart.
At the beginning of this week’s 10AM Eucharist, we will bless the candles that are used in our regular worship. They are a sign of Christ’s true light. As a people following in the way of Jesus, we too are called to be as candles: warmth to those who are feeling cold, light to those who have lost their way. In thought, word and deed; in any number of ways we can seek to serve others, spreading the light that was made known in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Your brother in Christ,