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A Light to the Nations

A man called Simeon, around 2,000 years ago, was in the Temple in Jerusalem. He was waiting. We don't know how long he had been waiting. We don't know anything else about him. We assume he was old, but he might not have been. All we know is his name and that he was waiting for someone. He was on the look out for God on the move, God doing something special, spectacular. An older woma, named Anna, was close by, with the same eager eyes on all who came and went. Also listening for the movement of God's Spirit, showing her the one that would turn her heart and voice to songs of praise.

February 2nd, Candlemas or the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, is the day when we celebrate with Simeon and Anna, as they meet a family as they come to the Temple to perform rituals of dedication and offering after the birth of their son. Jesus is brought by Mary and Joseph and both Simeon and Anna recognize that this is who they are waiting for. From this meeting we get the "Song of Simeon". Sometimes we call this the "Nunc Dimmittis" which is the latin for the first couple of words.

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.

These words are used daily in the worship of the Church, sometimes in Evening Prayer and in Compline. We can't pin them down and they will speak differently to us from time to time. But, in this time of winter, in this time news which we would rather ignore, in this time of global threat and concern we can hold onto the fact that Jesus is the light to all nations. In acknowledging that, and in a determination to witness to and share that light, we find our peace. It is nowhere else.

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

(The Collect for Candlemas, Common Worship)

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