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Candlemas

Candlemas (Russian icon)
Candlemas (Russian icon)

Almighty and ever-living God,
clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,
in substance of our flesh:
grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts,
by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

(Gregorian Sacramentary, Sarum Missal, 1549 BCP)

Candlemas originates from fourth century Jerusalem. It  was celebrated on February 12. It was moved to February 2 to be forty days after Christmas as that was set on December 25. Pope Sergius I (687-701) introduced the procession with lit candles from his native Syria to Rome. The story is sourced in Luke 2:22-40 where he conflates Leviticus 12 (purification for a new mother, forty days after the birth of a son, eighty days after a daughter’s birth) with redemption of the firstborn son from service to God (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16; Numbers 18:15-16). Although the later required  a five shekel payment to the priests, there was no requirement to go the temple. Prior to purification the mother is unclean. Purification involves the offering of a lamb as a thank offering for the gift of a child, and a dove or pigeon to cover any possible sin incurred in the flow of blood. Those unable to afford a lamb could offer a second dove.

The festival can be seen as a final farewell facing Christmas, and a turning to the walk towards the cross. This fits with the seasonal weather changes within nature.

Preserve us, O Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

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;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.

Preserve us, O Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

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Rev. Bosco Peters Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.