Reflection for Candlemas 2021


 Time to Get Right In

This is Alan Kirkman, my fifth most favourite warden in the Lowton & Golborne Team Ministry.  He’s investigating the cellar at St. Mary’s after the Great Lowton Monsoon of January 2021.  It is said that, after an initial reccy, he went home for his wellies;  arrived back and began looking for waders; then rang around asking to borrow a wetsuit and scuba equipment.  Nothing was going to stop him getting in, and plunging to the depths. Strangely enough, these are the twin themes for Candlemas.

The Gospel Reading for Candlemas – Luke 2.27-33

“27 Gui       ded by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.

Seeing or Experiencing?

Simeon was a devout Jew who prayed for the  coming of the Messiah.  Suddenly, he realises that the baby boy in the Temple is the Messiah; his prayers and the prophecy of his coming have been fulfilled!  In his prayer of thanksgiving (above), Simeon calls Jesus: God’s salvation – and, coincidentally, in Hebrew, Jesus’ name, Yeshua means salvation!  This lovely Jewish man is thrilled, and yet there is a hint of sadness. Close to death, Simeon sees the salvation, but will never experience  Jesus’ earthly  ministry: His life-changing words, tender actions, mighty miracles, and the power of the resurrection – full salvation.

Moses Only Sees the Promised Land

When we piece together the history of the Exodus, we realise Moses was probably about 40 when he ran away from Egypt; spent 40 years as a shepherd in what the King James Bibles calls the “backside of the desert” and then 40 years leading the Hebrews to the Promised Land.

As the tribes of Israel draw near to their destination, Canaan, Moses climbs Mount Nebo, stands on Pisgah’s top, and has a panoramic view of the new homeland. Shortly after this, he died. He never crossed the River Jordan; he never stood on the mountains of Judah; he never saw the beautiful fertile plain of Jezreel; he never looked from Mount Carmel on to the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.

A Change in the Weather – from Seeing to Entering

Charles Spurgeon was a regular attender at his local  church.  What he realised was that he knew about salvation, but had never gone through the gate, nor plunged into its depths.  He had seen the Promised Land, but never crossed over from his traditional experience of church life into the fulness of all God had promised.  Here he recalls that day in Colchester in 1850.

“I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, when I was going to my place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a court and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there might be a dozen or fifteen people. The minister did not come that morning…..snowed up, I suppose.

A poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach…. The text was, ‘Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’ He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in the text…Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. He then said, ‘Young man, you look very miserable. And you will always be miserable — miserable in life and miserable in death — if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved. Then he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist can, ‘Young man, look to Jesus Christ.’

There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that moment and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the Precious Blood of Christ. And as the snow fell on my road home from the little house of prayer I thought every snowflake talked with me and told of the pardon I had found, for I was white as the driven snow through the grace of God.”

Upon his return home, his appearance caused his mother to exclaim, “Something wonderful has happened to you.”

Where are we?  Still on dry ground looking in, testing the water, wearing wellies, or plunging in?

An Old Methodist Hymn

“By faith I plunge me in this sea,
Here is my hope, my joy, my rest;
Hither, when hell assails, I flee,
I look into my Saviour’s breast;
Away, sad doubt, and anxious fear!
Mercy is all that’s written there.

“Though waves and storms go o’er my head,
Though strength, and health, and friends be gone,
“Though joys be withered all and dead,
Though every comfort be withdrawn,
On this my steadfast soul relies,
Father, Thy mercy never dies.”

The Post Communion Prayer for Candlemas

 Lord, you fulfilled the hope of Simeon and Anna, who lived to welcome the Messiah: may we, who have received these gifts beyond words, prepare to meet Christ Jesus when he comes to bring us to eternal life; for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Amen. Amen. Amen.