I spy with my little eye....something beginning with C
Might be the cross
Might be the crib
Might be the candles
Might be the congregation
Might even be Communion
Actually – I want us to think about all of those today....
I wonder if, as we sang our opening hymn, anyone remembered when we last sang it here together.
It was, as it happens, our opening hymn on Christmas day – though on that occasion the words told another story...a simpler one, perhaps, of shepherds, angels and visiting kings...come together at the crib to worship a new born king.
We have continued our celebrations for the 40 days since (and one more for good measure) because, you know, it takes TIME to assimilate the wonder of God here with us...God as a helpless baby,open to all the horrible things that can, and do, still happen in our world.
So we've stayed at the crib – some of us have prayed beside it nearly every day – and rejoiced that Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas
Today, though, the baby leaves the crib behind and is taken to the Temple...where Simeon and Anna play their own game of I spy, spotting that little family as they arrive with their 2 turtledoves...
They've waited long – perhaps come close to giving up completely...but then the day dawns when they see and recognise heaven in ordinary – acclaiming it, - so that others too may know and rejoice.
But even as they celebrate the Christ – the promised, anointed one.....they spot too the shadow of the cross.
“A sword shall pierce your soul too” says Simeon to Mary...and for a moment the cold wind of mortality chills us all. Candlemas is the time when we turn from Christmas towards Passiontide. We cannot plead ignorance. The celebration of Christ's birth carries within it the sadness of his death – just as at the end of this service, as we process from the crib to the font, we will say the words that I use to close a funeral service
“Lord, now let your servant go in peace. Your word has been fulfilled...”
Candlemas is a feast where birth and death can seem very close – for us, as for that baby boy.
Simeon can go in peace BECAUSE HE HAS SEEN & RECOGNISED JESUS
And that, quite simply, is what we all have to do.
WE have to see and recognise Jesus – wherever we encounter him...
We need to be alert to spot him in the crowd – and we may have to point him out to others too.
Of course we celebrate his presence here week by week – in Communion, in our friends and neighbours in the congregation...
But when we leave here we don't, we mustn't, expect to leave Christ behind us.
Each of us carries the light of his presence, the light of his love within us
So – that's where those candles come in...Their flames show us things that might be hidden, light up dark corners, bring warmth and hope to even the darkest times
And for us today they are a reminder of our baptism – when each of us was given the light of Christ and commissioned to bear it wherever we go
There will be dark times ahead – there always are.....but today, just as much as on Christmas Eve when we heard John's wonderful prologue, we rejoice that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out”
Our task, then, is to share that light...To carry the candles of faith, hope and love out into the world so that others may see and recognise Christ
“Shine as a light in the world, to the glory of God the Father”