February Letter from The Ministry Team - Revd Trish Cope
I wonder when you took your Christmas decorations down. Was it at the “usual” time?
Traditionally Christmas decorations come down on 6th January at the end of the twelve days of Christmas.
But John and I looked at our tree and decided it was still in good
condition with no needle-drop nor dropping, so we would leave it up. Whilst some of the other floral decorations were ready for the green bin, the tree with its lights and decorations maintained a bit of light and cheer in the darkness of mid-January. And so, we have deferred taking down the tree until February 2nd which is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple known as Candlemas. This day remembers when Simeon
recognised Jesus as “the light to lighten the Gentiles”.
Contemporary practice has extended the twelve days of celebration to forty days. For twelve days during Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and for a further four weeks we have the season of Epiphany with accounts of the ways in which Jesus was revealed to the world as the Son of God. The combined seasons end with Candlemas.
If you walk past St John’s you will see that although most of our
Christmas decorations have been taken down, the crib and the star
remain. The crib is a reminder that Christmas was the time when the light of the world came into being here on earth and the star is a reminder of our call to seek and follow Jesus Christ light of the world. They will
remain until Candlemas.
Candlemas is seen as a pivotal moment when we turn from the crib to the cross. We turn from a period of celebration to one of discipline and self-sacrifice. We seem to turn from light to darkness, although the
natural world is turning the other way with the light of day extending. However, light and dark are both sides of the same coin. Whether we think about the light and dark of each day or the light and dark of
contrasting seasons in the year or the visual image caused by the
contrasting use of dark and light in art, it appears that you can’t have one without the other! Martin Luther King is quoted as saying:
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the
darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”
Christians are called to take the light of Christ with us to overcome the darkness we find in the world.
Despite the darkness around us - of winter, social isolation, illness and bereavement, all of which are very much in our lives at the moment, we recognise that the light of love still shines both now and ahead.
The snowdrop, sometimes called “Mary’s taper”, looks like a candle flame, shining in the ground, as its pointed flower bud pushes up through the ground and into the air. Snowdrops are also known as Candlemas Bells because the white of the snowdrop symbolizes the innocence and purity of Mary; and because it is the first flower to bloom at the end of winter and the beginning of spring, it represents hope. Hope is a powerful life force that enables us to face and overcome the challenges of life and it is with the hope of Easter in our hearts that we will face the coming months.
“When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart.” Howard Thurman
If you are lonely or finding life difficult and would like to talk to someone please telephone one of the ministry team whose contact details are the contacts page of this website. All conversations are in strict confidence.