Last Sunday the children of St. Mary's learned about Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that, 40 days after Jesus's birth, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple and offered sacrifices. At the temple, they met a man named Simeon. Simeon had been told by the Holy Ghost that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. When Simeon saw Jesus he held him, blessed God, and said what is now known as the Canticle of Simeon: Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
This event is celebrated on February 2 and is known as Candlemas. Candles are brought to church to be blessed, lit, and borne in a procession in celebration to Jesus being the light of the world.
February 2 also happens to be the halfway point between the darkness of the winter solstice and the light of the spring equinox. As the Old English poem goes,
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
You may recognize the sentiment behind this poem-- we now know it as Groundhog Day!
One beautiful symbol of Candlemas, and hope for the coming light and warmth, is the appearance of the Candlemas bells. A beautiful white flower, it is a perfect symbol of purity.
In preparation for Candlemas, the children of St. Mary's made stained glass votive candles. If you missed it, instructions are available here.
Kids should plan to bring their candles to church on February 1 for Candlemas!