Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany

Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

-- BCP, page 216


Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-12, 21c;
1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

February 2, the date of Candlemas -- one of the names for this Feast of our Lord Jesus Christ -- is very easy to remember thanks to the annual appearance of a certain Marmota monax, whose weather-predictive behavior makes or breaks many hopes about the length of winter.

Thanks, Phil.

The official name of this feast in the Episcopal calendar is The Presentation of Our Lord, but it is also known as The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or, in the Orthodox East, as The Meeting of Christ with Simeon

Personally, I like best its popular Spanish name, La Candelaria, which is the counterpart of Candlemas (literally, the "Mass of Candles").

The variety of names should alert us to the richness of this feast. It occurs on February 2 because that is exactly 40 days from our celebration of the birth of Jesus, and under the rubrics of the Hebrew Scriptures, a woman who had given birth could not approach the temple until the 40th day, when she would make offerings and become ritually clean to participate in worship.
This connection to the birth of Jesus made this day in years past the last celebration of Christmas, which used to be 40 days in length. One of its customs was to keep the Crèche in the church until this day. The symmetry of 40 days of Christmas and 40 days of Lent is rather appealing, isn't it? The story of Candlemas is told in Luke 2:22-40, as the last of the infancy narratives.

(Parents: you'll want to read on through the remainder of chapter 2 and ponder its empowerment of children!).

Here is the Collect of the Day for Candlemas:

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The name of the feast as Presentation has to do with the injunction that every first-born male belonged to God (Exodus 13:2; 22:29) and therefore had to be dedicated to God in memory of the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

The custom of blessing wax candles on this day gave the feast its other name, Candlemas. We thereby celebrate Jesus as the Light of the world who lightens the nations. And we take candles to our homes to bless them with the light of Jesus as well as to remind us that we bear the Light of Christ to all people.

My prayer is that Christ's light may always shine brightly in us and that through us it may illumine all around us with the love of God.

I close with the text for the Daily Devotions in the Early Evening (BCP, page 139), which we will also hear in church next week:

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:5-6 NRSV)

Under the Mercy,

Fr. Daniel+

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