With the grim milestone of over 100,000 deaths to date having been reached last week, it is good to see that the numbers of infections and deaths on the island are slowly beginning to come down.
It is also very encouraging to hear how many of you have now received your first vaccination!
Sadly, we cannot open our churches for public worship yet, but I wanted to draw your attention to an important festival of the Church which is coming up on Tuesday, namely Candlemas; also known as The Presentation of Christ in the temple, or the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Candlemas marks the end of 40 days since we celebrated Christ’s birth at Christmas, and the three titles given to this day give us a clue to the three things which are being remembered on this day.
Firstly, the recollection of the prophecy of Simeon in the Temple that the infant Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to the people Israel”; the Jewish rites surrounding childbirth for women, and the offering of a first-born Jewish child to God for His service.
Candlemas provides us with a sort of “hinge”, between the birth of Jesus at Christmas and our starting to look towards the cross; and the liturgical colour changes after the Eucharist at Candlemas from the white of Epiphanytide to a more penitential colour as Lent approaches.
Normally, we would have had a mass, with a candle-lit procession, as we remember that we were once presented at church for our baptism. At our baptism we were dedicated to God, and given the name, “Christian.” We received a lit candle from the paschal candle, at which the priest said, “God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and has given us a place with the saints in light. You have received the light of Christ; walk in this light all the days of your life.
Although we cannot be together to celebrate this Feast, let us spend some time on Feb 2nd pondering our own baptism and what it means to us in our daily discipleship and how we carry out this instruction to “walk in the light of Christ”.
Feb 2nd will also see the funeral of Eileen Jones, who used to be a faithful member of All Saints. Her coffin will be received into church at 4.30pm on Monday Feb 1st and will remain in church overnight. It will leave church at 11.00 on Tuesday Feb 2nd.
Her funeral will be at the crematorium at 12.00, but it will be immediate family and close friends only. However, we hope to have a memorial requiem and the interment of her ashes in due course. If you would like to attend the reception of her coffin, or to be there when she leaves church, you would be very welcome.
My love and prayers,
The image above is of a Romanesque fresco in the former bell house of Lambach Abbey. Christ heals a man possessed in the synagogue of Capernaum. Two groups of men are looking at what is happening, the twelve people on the left are probably the twelve apostles. It dates to the 11th century Creative Commons CC0 License