It doesn’t seem long ago that we were enjoying the feasting of the Christmas celebrations and only last weekend I was partying, celebrating my birthday, but now as I sit down to write, my thoughts turn towards the discipline of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, 26th February.
On Sunday 2nd February there is a church festival called Candlemas, which marks the dedication of the baby Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem; it has been traditionally a service where a candle-lit procession was held and the candles were blessed – hence it’s name. It is a day when we look back to Christmas (as Jesus would have been dedicated as a small baby) but also towards Lent, Holy Week and Easter.
Candlemas is the perfect Sunday for a Christingle as it is on that day we hear the reading from the Bible which first talks about Jesus as the Light of the World. (Luke 2: 22-40)
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him.
“What is a Christingle Service?” you may ask. It is a church service where we use every-day objects to remind us of God’s love in Jesus Christ and the God’s provision of the seasons and fruitfulness.
The orange is round like the world
The red ribbon goes all around the world and is a symbol of the blood Jesus shed when he died for us.
The four cocktail sticks point in all directions and represent North, South, East and West as well; as the four seasons
The fruit and sweets on each stick represent the fruits of the earth.
The candle standing tall and straight gives light in the dark and reminds us that Jesus was referred to as the Light of the World.
Christingle Services are traditionally held at any time from the beginning of Advent until Candlemas, and often over the Christmas period. They are always special as the children love them and we adults love to see children with lighted candles standing in darkened churches.
Come along and enjoy our Christingle Service at All Saints, Belton or a more traditional service of Holy Communion for Candlemas which also involves candles at Burgh Castle.
For me, Christingles always remind me of what John writes about in the beginning of his Gospel (John 1:4-5) In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Darkness cannot put out light but the light shines brightly in the darkness. For me, Candles and Christingles remind me that we have Jesus as the light of our world where his love and life can shine hope into our sometimes darkened world. Candlemas brings that reminder and then later Lent focuses our thoughts on what Jesus’ love in action meant; his gift of life and light to us and our opportunity to reflect and reveal that in who we are and what we do.