Candlemas! – Feb. 2, 2014

Title:Candlemas! – Feb. 2, 2014

  Sunday, February 2, 2014  (full size gallery)

We had 38 to bless the candles for Candlmas and hear the story of the Presentation of Jesus in the readings and approached differently in a scientific sermon. The readings are here. The children came into participate in Candlemas at the procession. A good turnout for them with 7 children.  Amy’s lesson was on the mustard seed. 

We were blessed with sunny weather in the 50’s that felt like spring. (However, today being groundhog day, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow leading to a forecast of 6 more week of winter)

We collected money and food for the Souperbowl. 70 items of food and $200. We recognized Millie Muhly on her birthday. 

Coffee hour was prepared by Betty (Minestrone soup), Boyd (Chile) and Barbara (wonderful ham sandwiches with chese). We also had fruit, punch and a moravian type sugar cake and a chocolate dessert. We had a whole room for the children. Marvelous!

 This was a triple header Sunday with Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Candlmas and the Souperbowl. This is a feast day and pre-eempted Epiphany 4. The Presentation occurs 40 days after Christmas and is mid-way between the Winter solstice and the Spring equinox.

Simeon’s story is one of fulfillment in that he was promised to gaze upon the baby Jesus, realizing his greatness before Simeon died.

Simone was a devout man who was constantly waiting.. and waiting for a savior. Time was running out and with the Romans in charge a savior seemed a long way off. However, it was told to him he would not die until he saw the Messiah.  However, I like what Paul-Gordon Chandler writes in his book Songs In Waiting:

"Many biblical commentators have interpreted his song as meaning he was at last free to die, presumably due to his old age after all those years of waiting to see the Messiah. However, the heart of Simeon’s verse is that he was released into freedom, enabled to experience the gift of life anew. Essentially, Simeon now understood what it meant to be at peace with himself, because of what he "saw" in the temple…What Simeon saw made all the difference, providing this new sense of release to enter a new existence.

Chandler describeds Rembrandt’s painting shown above. "And Simeon, rather than looking at the child he is holding, is gazing up at God, with the baby’s head slightly turned, his eyes watching Simeon’s upward gaze." "…it almost seems that Simeon and the Christ Child are looking up because they have heard a voice. If this is true, perhaps the more accurate question is, What did Simeon hear that so changed him? Interestingly, Simeon’s name means "one who hears…"What Simeon experienced is an illumination into his own experience and life, as well as a vision into new vistas on God’s character. "  He understood this Messiah was not just for the Jews but for all people. Simeon had received a gift.

" The spirit in which Simeon sings demonstrates for us that this new revelation of God’s character brought him tremendous security, an inner calm. He also ex­perienced a cessation of the intensity and enslavement of living in the future, and a freedom from the dete-minedness that had accompanied him all his life…" 

At the same time  "Simeon’s release to a new kind of life of peace en­tailed a revelation of suffering… In addition to the joy of being alive, there is also the sadness and hurt of being alive… In his statement to Mary, he is saying that the greatest circumstance of suffering in this world will bring about the greatest miracle of peace that has ever taken place.

But yet in the midst of this as Chandler write "We are enabled to ride through the storms of life because we know that the paradox of suffering betokens a reality beyond the storm more precious than we can imagine."  

Chandler concludes Advent – "So every year, as the Advent season draws to a close and we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we are presented with both a challenge and an invitation. This child, born into our world, made possible for Simeon not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living. Seeing the Christ Child gave Simeon a fresh revelation of God and the way God uses suffering. This revelation is one that each of us can experi ence this Advent. The child in Simeon’s arms gives us a new ability to live a new kind of life, where both living in the present and living with suffering are immeasurably deepened" 

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