Trust in God in the good times and in the bad ones
We’re past the mid-point of winter: February 2 marks the half-way point between the winter solstice in December and the spring equinox in March.
Christians celebrate the feast of Candlemas on February 2. Traditionally it was the day when all the candles in the church were blessed. Hence its name: the festival or ‘mass’ of candles.
Candlemas falls 40 days after Christmas and commemorates the ritual purification of Mary 40 days after the birth of her son Jesus. Christians remember the presentation of Jesus in the temple.
Christmas seems a long time ago, certainly more than 40 days – it’s a distant memory for most us now. Ash Wednesday is next week and then there are 40 days to Easter (not including Sundays). So Candlemas falls almost half way between Christmas and Easter this year.
Candlemas is a hinge in the Christian year, reaching back to the joy of Jesus’ birth, which we celebrated at Christmas, and forward to his suffering and death, which is remembered at Easter.
Between Christmas and the cross, Jesus’ presentation in the temple is a celebration with mixed emotions. There is the joy of a healthy baby boy brought to the temple to give thanks to God for his safe delivery. But Simeon, an elderly man the family encountered at the temple, warned that there would be trouble ahead. He said that people would be opposed to Jesus and that his mother would suffer.
The bitter-sweetness of Candlemas is important because it reminds us that Jesus lived through the full range of human experience, from great joy to terrible pain.
The message of Candlemas is that we can trust that God is with us when we are happy and when we are sad; when life is wonderful and when things feel as if they are falling apart.
God has been there too, he knows what it’s like, so we can always turn to him for help.