Sunday, February 2, 2014

Candlemas: Let There Be Light!

We celebrate Candlemas in all sorts of ways.  Many of us don't even realize that we're celebrating Candlemas when we look to that groundhog to tell us our weather fate for the next 6 weeks.

OK, that last sentence was a stretch.  I can't really claim that I can trace Groundhog Day all the way back to ancient Christian rites that surround Candlemas.  But it does seem that this time of year leaves us yearning for light.

Candlemas celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the temple.  It's the last feast holiday that references Christmas.  We could see it as the final festival of Christmas, even though most of us have had the decorations packed away since even before Epiphany.

Simeon holds the baby Jesus.  Imagine it:  to hold the light of the world in your hands.  In so many ways we still do.  We carry the light of the world inside us.  How can your body deliver light to the world?

Some churches and monasteries will bless the year's supply of candles.  I love this tradition, although it's never been mine.  Today would be a good day to light a candle and to think about our own lights.  Are we dimly burning wicks?  Take heart--the Bible promises that we can still be useful?  Does our light burn pure and true?  Take care to protect that flame. 

What makes us flicker?

Before we had Candlemas, we had pagan festivals of Imbolc and Oimelc.   These festivals celebrate the stirring of seeds, the shifting of seasons, the time when we begin the tilt to Spring.

The holidays of early February (Groundhog Day, Candlemas, St. Brigid's Day, Imbolc and Oimelc ) remind us that the light hasn't really left us.  Spring will be here soon.

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