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31st January 2021

posted 28 Jan 2021, 04:24 by Church Office
Parish Eucharist - Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas)



Candlemas marks the end of Epiphany & celebrates the moment when, though an ordinary infant, Christ is recognised as the light of the world. Candlemas holds together the ordinary and the extraordinary, the human and the divine. In Christ all opposites are brought together and become a place where God’s glory can shine.

In our first reading, Malachi presents the presence of God with us as terrifying, like a burning fire. Yet what is burnt away is what keeps us apart from each other, inequality and injustice. God does not demand that we be divine, but that we be fully human, alive to the humanity of others around us.

In the gospel Jesus’ parents present him to God just as every first-born child would have been presented. Somehow Simeon and Anna recognise the presence of God in this ordinary child who will carry the light of God’s presence into the world and give us the task of carrying it with him.

Readings 

First Reading: Malachi 3: 1-5


See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Collect
Lord Jesus Christ.
light of the nations and glory of Israel:
make your home among us,
and present us pure and holy
to your heavenly Father,
your God and our God. 
Amen
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