February 2, 2015 (full size gallery)
A Monday night service is unusual but this is one of Catherine’s favorite services. It is the day we celebrate Jesus Presentation in the Temple as was custom at that time. The day has taken on a different name, Candlemas centuries later. It was the day of the year when all the candles, that were used in the church during the coming year, were brought into church and a blessing was said over them – so it was the Festival Day (or ‘mass’) of the Candles. Candles were important in those days not only because there was no electric lights. Some people thought they gave protection against plague and illness and famine.
It was also related to the calendar. Candlemas occurs at a period between the December solstice and the March equinox, so many people traditionally marked that time of the year as winter’s “halfway point.” It is a time to bless candles.
We had 26 in attendance with help from the Rev. Bambi Willis and St. Asaph’s congregation. This was a special night for Bambi as it was the one year anniversary of becoming rector of St. Asaph’s.
Amy Meyer brought her new 47 string 1974 concert harp to the service. She provided a 20 minute concert before the service and played at times during the service. It echoes in our space and spreads outward. Denise Symonds was our organist.
Catherine once again include the hymn she wrote last year for this service which was on a regular Sunday. The role of Simeon and Anna continue the role of Joseph and Mary in the Presentation in nurturing Jesus. Priest and prophet. Another unlikely couple and as in the hymn Anna “old and wrinkled prophet” and Simeon “With his eyes he’s seen God’s glory light and love in rich supply.” He is guided by a promise that he will not die until he sees the Messiah.
Light plays a key role in this service for insight, faith and openness. “Fill our hearts with the light of faith” and a future with the “light that shines for ever, your son Jesus Christ.”
The service moves in the Prayers of the People to presenting ourselves filing to the front to light a candle. “I invite you to come forward and light a candle in thanksgiving for a particular blessing for a hope or an expectation or for a light filled longing that is known only to you an God for someone you love, for someone you have loved and see no longer in this lifetime.” The Old Testament reading adds comfort to us but at the same time asks to made over “Refine us like gold and silver, that we may be light in this world, proclaiming your faithful love.”
For communion Eucharistic Prayer 2 was used. This is a very earthy prayer emphasizing in this service creation themes and the power of God through the Holy Spirit. “Breathe your Spirit over the whole earth and make us your new creation.”
The sermon used a song of hope composed during the holocaust. It became known as the Hymn of the Camps sung as people were herded into gas chamber. This week we remembered the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust. The words – “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may tarry, nevertheless I await his coming every day.” “Tonight’s gospel is about two people of faith who would have been right at home with this song of hopeful longing.”
“What we know about Simeon is that he knew how to wait with hope for something beyond himself. ..Simeon and Anna have much to teach us about how to live—how to live in this very moment, because every moment of our lives we are caught up in the intersection between the past and the future. And we must enter into this future, which we cannot see or imagine, but we have no choice but to enter into it…And so Simeon and Anna show us that faithful waiting and steadfast openness to God can help us enter into our own futures. Faithful waiting and steadfast openness turn us into light seeking light, even in the darkest moments of our lives.”