Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This day, 40 days after the birth of Jesus, marks the traditional ending of the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle. It has been observed both as the presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the purification or cleansing of Mary. Levitical law dictated this presentation and purification following the birth of a male child.
The theme of Jesus, the true light – anticipated in Advent and brought into being at Christmas – now is sent to all the world: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).
Because of the emphasis of Christ’s light overcoming the darkness, candles have played a large part in the celebration of this day, thus the name Candlemas. In some churches, candles are blessed and distributed to be taken home and used during family devotions.
Here at St Paul’s we are doing things a little differently. The work of renewing the façade of the church has been completed. The new cross has been installed and will be a light pushing aside the darkness of the world and shining out for Christ in this area. Today we dedicate this cross and pray that this might be a time of renewal for ourselves that others might be drawn, by the light, into the body of Christ.