Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ 7 But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’
(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
The churchwarden was on the prowl with a fire extinguisher at the ready. The previous year when holding a Christingle Service on the Sunday nearest to 2nd February, a small boy had decided to set light to his sister's long hair. Luckily a vigilant adult had stopped his antics. This year we had spread the congregation all round the church, with a child alternating between adults!
But why were we holding a Christingle Service at this time of the year? Well the Christingle Service has very little to do with Christmas but it makes sense to have it when we are thinking of Simeon's words to May and Joseph as they present the baby Jesus in the Temple - that he will be "a light to the Gentiles". The Christingle is all about 'Christ the Light of the world' after all.
'Candlemas' has a number of names. Among them are 'The Feast of the Purification of Mary' and 'Presentation of Christ in the Temple', and for many centuries it was a time to bless new candles to be used in church. Both Mary and Joseph came at this time to observe the ritual laws concerning cleanliness. Jesus as the firstborn son, came to be "consecrated" as holy to the Lord (that is, to be set apart for God) and be redeemed (bought back) by a sacrifice of a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.
Since we looked at the reading from Luke a few days after Christmas I have used another from the Lectionary, from Jeremiah, which might also apply to Jesus as he begins his life of service to his Heavenly Father.
The Collect for today
You might like to light a candle and say this prayer concerning your calling as a Christian:
by whose grace alone we are accepted
and called to your service:
strengthen us by your Holy Spirit
and make us worthy of our calling;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.