Focus groups for the building project begin next week, please attend one if you have thoughts, questions, comments, ideas, etc. about the project. If you are unable to make one of the meetings, please share your thoughts directly with me or with another member of the building team. We really want to build consensus and have this endeavor be a parish project, but we can’t do that without your participation and insight. Thank you!
Our second Bible Study takes place next Tuesday, February 4. We will be talking about Matthew’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, arguably one of the most well-known texts of Jesus’ teachings. If you’d like to read ahead, it is Matthew 5-9, but it’s not required. We had a lot of fun last time focusing on Matthew 1-4, and I look forward to an interesting discussion that will be an opportunity for one and all to let their inner church nerds out.
This Sunday we are not going to hear the usual readings for the fourth Sunday of Epiphany. February 2 is always the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, also known as Candlemas. When it falls on a Sunday, the Candlemas readings preempt the normal readings, so we will hear about Mary and Joseph bringing their infant to the Temple, to dedicate their first born son to God. The Book of Leviticus commands that a year-old lamb be sacrificed, though those of little means were allowed to offer a pigeon or turtledove instead. Luke goes out of his way to specify that Mary and Joseph offered a “pair of turtledoves,” which marked their poverty.
Christians have celebrated this feast since the late fourth century (though originally on February 14). In the 700s a procession of candles was added to the beginning of the Eucharist, which is where the name “Candlemas” comes from. It soon became the time that households would bring in the candles they would use in the coming year to be blessed.
Candlemas also provides us with two examples of prophetic discipleship. Simeon has been waiting in the Temple each day, promised by God that he will not die before seeing the Messiah. Upon seeing Jesus he proclaims “Lord, you now have set your servant free, to go in peace as you have promised.” This is the opening line of the familiar canticle, praising God for preparing “a light to enlighten the nations and the glory of your people Israel.” Anna, on the other hand, has been a widow for many decades and when she sees the Christ child she gets to work telling all who are “looking for the redemption of Israel” about the baby.
I hope to see you Sunday for more fun (and nerdy) facts!
Prayers and blessings,