The season of joyful celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ that begins at Christmas continues through the successive Sundays of Epiphany, and the festal cycle ends only with the Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas), when we recall the day on which he was presented in the Temple according to the Law of Israel, when he was offered to the Father and shown to his people. As a sign of his coming among us, his mother was purified, as we now come to him for cleansing. In their old age Simeon and Anna recognized him as their Lord, as we today sing of his glory.
He is both ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles’ and ‘the glory of God’s people Israel’. But the redemption he will bring must be won through suffering; the Incarnation is directed to the Passion; and Simeon’s final words move our attention away from the celebration of Christmas and towards the mysteries of Easter, as we look back to the day of his birth and forward to the coming days of his passion.
The Feast of the Presentation is on Friday 2nd February, but is often transferred to a Sunday, this year Sunday 28 January, when the usual services take place across the Team.