Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. As is so often the custom these days, we kept at in church on the nearest Sunday, two days early. As always, we finished the mass with a candlelit procession to the hymn Ye who own the faith of Jesus, finishing at the font which is at the main entrance of the church. We then have a short ceremony to end with, reminding us that Jesus, the Light for the world, calls us to go out into our world to show his light to others. Here is what I said:
If any day in the year could be said to have an identity crisis it must surely be February 2nd. I erroneously went and told the children at our school on Wednesday that it had three different titles. The curate I live with, when I was telling her about this afterwards, reminded me of two I’d missed out. Five different titles for one day! I’d be amazed if anyone could tell me all five!
The children were able to tell me one of them straight away! Yes – February 2nd is, of course, Groundhog Day! The belief, originating from central Europe and now widely celebrated in North America, is that the groundhog emerges from his burrow where he has been hibernating and pokes his head out to see what the weather is like. If it’s sunny and he can see his shadow he goes back to sleep because winter is coming back. If it’s windy and wet or snowy then winter is coming to an end, so he emerges because spring is round the corner. It’s the same tradition that is celebrated in the old English rhyme which also gives us the second of the five titles:
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
If Candlemas Day be wind and rain,
Winter has gone and will not come again.
Though I much prefer this poem about the groundhog which I shared with our school children: Continue reading
Well, the Christmas services are now all over. Here’s the sermon I preached at Midnight Mass this year. As always at the Midnight Mass, the gospel reading was the prologue from Saint John’s Gospel.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
God had been very busy creating things. And God said: Wow! I’m worn out. I’ve just created a 24-hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth. The angel said: What are you going to do now? And God said: I think I’ll call it a day!
One of our most basic fears is fear of the dark. Today, with electric lighting inside and out – unless you live in Woldingham, of course, where the residents don’t want street lights – we rarely have to face the dark unless it is our own choice. At the time of Jesus, as night fell, the only protection against the dark was a candle or an oil lamp. Continue reading