The feast of Candlemas, which is celebrated this Sunday, makrs the end of the Christmas season and the turning of oru attention towards Lent which is jsut around the corner. Also know as the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Candlemas celebrates Mary and Joseph fulfilling their religious obligation in taking their firstborn child to the Tempe to offer a sacrifice in accordance with Jewish religious law. At the Temple, we are told Mary adn Joseph were greeted by the Prophets Simeon and Anna, who had been waitng for the coming of the Messiah – the one who would save God’s people. The Song of Simeon, the Nunc Dimitis, is recorded by St Luke in his Gospel, as having been uttered on this occasion.
There are many legends associated with Candlemas, the most beautiful of which is the legend of teh snowdrops: that when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden after the fall, snowdrops grew in Eve’s footprints, a glimmer of hope when all seemed lost. And you’ll notice that snowdrops do indeed grow in clumps, just as if they’re growing in someone’s footprints. And then, the legend says, they also grew in Mary’s footsteps as she left the Temple after the Presentation: Mary, through the Incarnation to which she gave her consent, is the one who leads the way on the journey back to Eden, back to paradise.
Snowdrops are thought to have been introduced to the United Kingdom my monastic communities who used them to decorate their church at Candlemas. Ancinet monastic sites, along with ancient churches, often have blankets of snowdrops in their grounds.
On Sunday, at St Oswald’s there will be snowdrops in church, as well as candles to light, as we gather to celebrate this most beautiful of Christian festivals. The service starts at 10. Our all-age children’s group will have its own activities during the service, and there will be tea and cake afterwards. Everyone is welcome! If you have snowdrops in flower, please bring some along!