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Candlemas from the queen's college virtual chapel

2 February is Candlemas, also known as the Presentation in the Temple or the Purification of the Virgin. Forty days after Christmas, it commemorates the visit of Mary and Joseph to the Temple in Jerusalem to ask God's blessing on their six-week-old son.

Traditionally, the focus was on Mary as a new mother. Candles were blessed on this day and were kept in the hope that they would bring protection to women in childbirth. But today also commemorates a profound encounter between the generations: the octegenarians Simeon and Anna, greeting the newborn as the future hope for their nation and the world.

You might want to light a candle - or an LED equivalent, if you're in a College room! - as we take a few minutes to reflect through music, scripture and prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, light of the nations and glory of Israel: make your home among us, and present us pure and holy to your heavenly Father, your God, and our God. Amen.

Prepare

We prepare ourselves to welcome Christ into our hearts, as we ask for forgiveness, healing, and peace.

Read

Gospel reading: Luke 2.22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided 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, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

‘Master, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

Reflect

Pray

For new parents, and those preparing for parenthood, especially for those whose experience of birth has been made more difficult by covid precautions.

For the elderly, especially those in care homes or living alone. For all those who think that their lives are over, or are treated as though they have nothing left to offer or nothing left to look forward to.

For the relationship between the generations, for mutual listening and learning, for intergenerational justice and intergenerational generosity.

For all those on our own hearts, and those who have asked our prayers, those who are sick or struggling or facing death, their own or that of someone they love.

The Lord's prayer

Music from The Choir of The Queen's College: Coelho, Primeiro Kyrie and D. Lobo, Missa de beata Maria virgine (Benedictus) both from the album Caeli Porta. Bednall, Alma redemptoris mater from the album House of the Mind.