28th January 2024 10.30am – Candlemas – Eucharist

28th January 2024 Candlemas: 

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The Readings

Malachi 3.1-5

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.


Luke 2.22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.



Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By Joe, Reader at St Mary's.

Today we celebrate today the Feast of Candlemass, which
commemorates the presentation of Mary and Jesus at the Temple
for the Jewish ceremony of purification for the mother, who would
be regarded as having been made impure by bearing a child.
The presentation of Jesus at the Temple – told in Luke’s Gospel - is a
very important part of the God’s intention to save us through the
incarnation of his son.

Candlemas marks the end of the 40 days of the Christmas / Epiphany
season and for me, as well as celebrating the presentation of Jesus,
it celebrates the importance of the incarnation, the virtue of
patience, and bringing light in to the world. With our reading from
Malachi, we’re also reminded that there will be consequences to
Jesus coming in to our lives, and that – like the Levites – we need to
get our act together.

The story of Jesus’s presentation is given in our reading from Luke’s
Gospel, and also is reflected in the words of the Nunc Dimitis. The
fact that Mary and Joseph do this is in itself a reminder that Jesus is
fully human as well as being fully divine; there is no real reason for
purification for him or his mother, but in doing so the Holy family
reflect and live the human experience of all Jewish families at that

At the temple, Simeon, an old man who has been told by God that he
will not die until he has seen the Messiah, is guided to the Temple by
the Holy Spirit and there is able to see and hold Jesus. He tells Mary
that her son is the Messiah, and that she will know great sorrow.

Anna, an elderly prophetess who lives in the Temple, comes to tell
anyone who will listen about Jesus.

We have a foreshadowing of the fate of Jesus in Simeon’s words to
Mary about her heart being pierced by sorrow; a reminder, again, of
the fully human nature of Jesus. He will die; he will be mourned.
Let’s take a look at Malachi. Our reading starts by telling us:
“ I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple;
the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”
says the Lord Almighty.”

Malachi was written for a post-exile audience, and although the
Temple had been rebuilt and worship was taking place, the priestly
classes – the Levites – were a bit slipshod in their ways.

They didn’t have as much confidence and faith in the rituals from
their past as might be expected. The Lord will rectify that – it all
sounds rather harsh for the Levites.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the
Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will
have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the
offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord,
as in days gone by, as in former years.”

But at the end of the cleansing, there will be righteous priests
capable of offering worship as in the pre-exile days.

The coming of the Lord will involve change; like the Levites, we can
expect to be changed from the inside out – from our very hearts – to
make us righteous.

Jesus is made like us; fully human, born of a woman. Jesus will serve
God as a faithful and merciful priest and he will make atonement for
our sins.

But he is also fully divine; something that’s easy to forget about in
these stories of the early part of Jesus’s life. As far as we can tell,
He’s given the life of a typical small boy by his parents. There are no
‘Jesus: Boy Messiah’ stories for us. But we can’t forget that Jesus is
also fully divine, fully God.

The participation of Mary and Jesus in the ritual cleansing tells us
that Jesus was fully human; he was presented in the Temple like any
human child, and his mother was purified like any other mother. He
came in to the world as a member of an ‘average’ family – a good,
religious family who obeyed the edicts of their Jewish faith, but not
at all rich and wealthy. One of us, so to say.

In the child in Simeon’s arms, and in the messenger described in
Malachi, we’re seeing the fully human and fully divine Christ come to
save us from ourselves.

Simeon says, in the Nunc Dimitis:

“Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:  your word has
been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared
in the sight of every people; A light to reveal you to the
nations and the glory of your people Israel.”

What patience! A life spent waiting in faith, in the knowledge that
God’s promise to him would be fulfilled, that he would live to see the

Messiah. His patience and faith have been rewarded, and we are
reminded once again that God keeps his promises.

The candles we see around us tonight represent Jesus’s light to us,
the light to ‘reveal God to the nations’.

The world may seem a dark and confusing place right now, with
apparently little of the light of salvation we’re promised showing.
But the light of Christ IS with us, and we don’t need much of it to
dispel the darkness.

Leonard Cohen, the Canadian poet and song-writer, wrote the
following words in his song ‘Anthem’:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We can, figuratively speaking, ring our bells; we can love, follow the
teachings of Christ with generosity and passion, aware that whatever
we do will not be a perfect offering, but will hopefully be acceptable
to God.

Like the Levites in the Temple, we’re only human. We can look at the
last part of our reading from Malachi – and though we can expect
judgement, God tells us ‘Do not be afraid’.

Jesus’s incarnation, his grace and mercy, and his defeat of death at
the resurrection, provides the crack in the darkness of this fallen

And, as Leonard says, ‘That’s how the light gets in’.


The Prayers

Let us pray to the Father through Christ who is our light and life.

Father, your Christ is acclaimed as the glory of Israel:
look in mercy on your Church, sharing his light.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ in his temple brings judgement on the world:
look in mercy on the nations, who long for his justice.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ, who was rich, for our sakes became poor:
look in mercy on the needy, suffering with him.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ is the one in whom faithful servants find their peace:
look in mercy on the departed, that they may see your salvation.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Father, your Christ is revealed as the one destined to be rejected:
look in mercy on us who now turn towards his passion.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord God, you kept faith with Simeon and Anna,
and showed them the infant King.
Give us grace to put all our trust in your promises,
and the patience to wait for their fulfilment;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is used here is copyright (c) 2010 The Archbishops' Council