Presentation of Christ / Candlemas

February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ. Some churches call it "Candlemas". It's the culmination of the Epiphany season, and brings to a close the "cycle of light" that began with Advent. From here, we begin the "cycle of life" as we journey through ordinary time, then Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost, and then ordinary time again until next Advent.

Lectionary

  • Malachi 3:1-4: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple...".
  • Psalm 84: "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord."
  • Hebrews 2:14-18: "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people."
  • Luke 2:22-40: "[Simeon:] My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

Prayer

God of steadfast love,
you sent your Son to be the light of the world,
saving people everywhere from sin and death.
As Anna gave thanks for the freedom he would bring,
and Simeon saw in him the dawn of redemption,
complete your purpose once made known in him.
Make us the vessels of his light,
that all the world may glory in the splendor of your peace. Amen.

- Revised Common Lectionary

Reflection

Candlemas articulates the necessary future of this beautiful Light coming into the world. Our celebrations so far [in Christmas and Epiphany] have dwelt on the joyful implications of the Son of God’s arrival, our redemption, salvation, and deliverance. Candlemas reiterates in a pointed way that the coming of the Lord includes difficult things – the persecutions of Jesus in His ministry and the call of the Christ to suffer the Cross. Candlemas rounds out our thoughts regarding the significance of the Word become flesh, and moves us forward to Lent.

- Fr. Wayne McNamara (Christ the King Anglican Church), "The Meaning of Candlemas"

Poem

From Malcom Guite, "A Sonnet for Candlemas". It ends thus: "We glimpse with them, amidst our busyness, / The peace that Simeon and Anna knew. / For Candlemas still keeps His kindled light, / Against the dark our Saviour’s face is bright".

Other Resources

Explore the meaning and celebration of Candlemas at The Homely Hours:

Art

     Presentation in the Temple (14th century), Musée de Cluny, Paris.

    Presentation in the Temple (14th century), Musée de Cluny, Paris.