Saturday, February 2, 2019


My Friends,

Readings from Mal 3 1-14 & Luke 2:22-40
 In the Ardennes, there is a little Church. It is called the Church of the Lamps.
There is no electric light there. If people enter the church, they pick up a lamp from the back. When there are only a few people in church, there are large shadows in the building visible. When there are a lot of people in church, well then it is a feast. Then there is athmosphere, warmth and cozyness.  A few people in a brightly lit up church is not a feast. Many churches nowadays don't have the lights at the back burning. And yet there are still people sitting there in the dark, fond of their own chose place in the building.
 In church we use lots of candles. Candles accompany us from the cradle to the grace. The baptism candle is lit from the Paschal candle. As a little child we receive the light in our hands with the mission to be a light in this world.  Then we know the candles in the Advent wreath, the candles in the Christmas tree, the candles at Candlemas. And finally at the hour of our passing at the funeral candles are burning again. Also the Paschal candle is lit. A sign that in our darkest hour of death, the light of Christ will win.
 Exactly forty days after Christmas it is 2 February, Candlemass, or the Purification of the Blessed virgin Mary. You would have expected that the whole of Jerusalem would be there when the Light of the world is being carried into the temple. But the Christmas Child did not come to honour Himself. Four times in the Gospel is mentioned that the child will be subject to the law of God.  In this way Jesus follows a tradition of His people. A Bar-Mitswa, a Son of the Law, that is what He is going to turn into.What does happen there on this fortieth day after the birth. It relates to the old Paschal story of Israel. The Sons of Egypt died, the first born of Israel were spared.Pure mercy from God. That is why people agreed to dedicate their first born to God.
After the short service in the temple is finished, two people approach Josef and Mary, a man and a woman. Before they know it, the man has the child in his arms. He sings a psalm and uses difficult words. The woman begins to prophesy. An ordinary group of people, there were so many people like that on the temple square. Small groups of praying and talking people.
 And who is this old man called Simeon, who holds the child in his arms? The tradition says that he is old and tired. "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant go in peace", because it has happened during my lifetime. Old Simeon put your head down now, because the Messaiah has really come. But that is not what it means.
It means " O Lord, you have released your servant." Intriguing words. What does this release then mean? We see this in Luke 13: a lame woman is released and can walk again. 
 Simeon sings a song of praise. In our Church we find it back in the Nunc Dimittis, sung at Evensong. Simeon leaves his post and continues his life.  Luke tells us the story of the man, who saw things as they really were deep in his heart. He did not see a beaming child, but a child that was destined to be the Saviour of mankind.
 The 2nd of February is the feast of Candlemas , the feast of Light. Candles are a symbol of our lives. Above every candle burns the light, that can break through the darkness and shed warmth. Under the flame, the wax, which burns quietly without resistance. That is a sign of willingness. The candle is prepared to burn wherever it is being put down. The candles , which we burn today express Mary's and our lives. Hopefully we are prepared to shine with our lights in the darkness, which holds our world in such a grip.
 If only a few want to shine with their light, then the world looks dark and sorrowful. But if many want to keep their light burning, the world can turn into a warm and pleasant place and the darkness disappears. Don't complain that we live in dark times, but shine with your light. And the darkness will disappear.  What a promise!
It is not a matter that we are thermometer, which measures the warmth in our surroundings, but we are a thermostat, which gives out warmth.
And this is what Jesus wanted to be: a thermostat to give warmth to every person He met in his earthly life.


Father Ed Bakker,
Priest and Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne,

No comments: