On the 2nd February we celebrate the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or Candlemas as it is also known. We read of the beautiful story of Simeon and Anna meeting the Christ-child in the Temple. In their old age, Simeon and Anna recognise this baby as their Lord and sing of his glory. The words of the Nunc dimittis spoken by Simeon tell of that glory:
‘A light to lighten the nations and the glory of your people Israel’.
It is also traditionally the Sunday when we bless all the candles we will be using during the coming year in our worship and at the end of the service we symbolically turn from the cradle, marking the end of the Christmas season, towards the cross, looking towards Lent.
On the 26th February we will start the journey through Lent with two Ash Wednesday services (do see the details elsewhere in the magazine). Many of us, myself included, have probably forgotten any New Year’s resolutions we may have made but Lent gives us that opportunity to focus on our faith journey and what would help us have a deeper relationship with our Lord. For many making sacrifices like giving up chocolate or alcohol helps, for others it is taking something up. I have always tried to put aside more time for reflective reading. There is no right or wrong way of journeying through Lent but it is important to do something – something that will help us think more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Through our services and our Lent groups, I want us to explore more deeply what it means to be a Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world; how can we be more effective followers of Jesus in our day to day lives – Monday to Saturday and how does our worship enable us to do that? We will be starting reflective evening services and I would like to start an all age service on a Sunday afternoon in the Spring – just lasting 40 minutes.
Our churches need to be accessible, both to those who come every week and those who haven’t been to church for many years but would like to give it go; those with young children and those who want a time of quiet reflection.
May God bless each of us as we journey through Lent and beyond.