Today, it is exactly 40 days since Christmas Day. Hard to believe; isn’t it? Christmas was like yesterday, and today I have taken down all Christmas decorations and put them away in a box until December this year.
Taking Christmas decorations down today is a traditional practice (while some Christians take them down on the Eve of Epiphany), and related to the celebration of the feast of Jesus being consecrated to the Lord at Temple following the fulfilment of the purification rites required by the Law of Moses for mother’s following giving birth (Exodus 13:2, 12; Leviticus 12). This day is also known as Candlemas Day which was known as the Festival of Lights in pre-Christian times which marked in the northern hemisphere the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. The pre-Christian festival celebrated the life-giving sun.
With this background, traditionally, today is the day when all the candles that were to be used in the church were brought and blessed. Following this tradition, today Christians take the candles that are used at the altar in homes for the Candlemas Service to be blessed by the priest.
At the heart of this feast are several important celebrations and important things for our spiritual lives. They are: Jesus’ life being consecrated to God; Jesus being declared as the Redeemer of the world; and Jesus being celebrated as the Light of the World (John 8:12). These remind us of the importance of the consecration of our lives to Lord, and being the bearers of God’s love and redemption in the world, and being lights of the world ourselves as Jesus said (Matthew 5:14).
In this Feast, we also celebrate the virtue of obedience through Mary’s submission to Law of Moses, and her purity to be the God-bearer. At the dedication of Jesus, the righteous man Simeon who held Jesus in his hands tells Mary the sufferings she will endure. These remind us the importance of our obedience to God and the purity of our hearts to be God-bears ourselves to serve God in this world.
The story also tells of Anna, an 84 years old widow who had lived in the Temple since her husband died after 7 years of marriage. It is said she was a deeply spiritual person who fasted and prayed and worshipped God day and night. The story concludes her recognising Jesus and testifying to all who had waited for redemption, with thanksgiving to God.
Anna reminds us of the importance of prayer and through prayer having the ability to identify God’s directions in life and what He continues to reveal to us in our lives. She also reminds us of those special people who pray for us. We give thanks to God for all the Annas in our lives.
God bless you richly.