This week's reflection comes from Rev'd Devin McLachlan, our Associate Vicar
Candlemas is just around the corner; we’ll be marking this Feast on Sunday, as well as on the day itself, 2 February. It’s the Feast of the Presentation, 40 days after Christmas, marking when (as told in Luke 2.22-40) Jesus’ parents came to the Temple, his mother Mary for her ritual purification, and a burnt offering to be given — and Christians have been celebrating this day since at least the 4th Century.
Back home in America, Candlemas was never a major holiday — but its related German folk tradition, Groundhog Day, is. For those who haven’t seen the 1993 Bill Murray movie, on the second of February, folks gather 'round to check whether the groundhog (back in Germany, a badger) sees its shadow. Sunny, shadow-casting weather on Candlemas foretells a long winter; overcast weather is a forecast for an early Springtime. The Scots thought along the same lines: “If Candlemas is fair and clear / There’ll be twa winters in th’ year.”
As someone trained in folklore as well as in theology, I’m delighted at the attitude of Groundhog Day — if it’s lousy weather now, then better days are coming soon. That’s a reminder we all might appreciate. (I suppose as well there is the corollary: But if it’s unseasonably bright now, then unseasonable darkness is in store. Then again, Northern European folklore has never been, shall we say, overflowing with one-sided optimism.)
The truth is, I don’t know what the rest of 2021 will look like, and I’m not one for prognostications (“It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority,” Jesus reminded his disciples on the day of his Ascension). We could be in for a long winter of discontent, or a glorious new springtime. We will certainly have both shadows and sunshine. But this is what I do know:
A poor, young family walked into the Temple in Jerusalem with their first born child, on their way from Bethlehem to Nazareth. And Anna, in her great age, saw that child began to praise God and to speak about him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem, and faithful Simeon held the child and declared to God "My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people." That great light, that child of Good News, the salvation which God has prepared in the sight of every people — he shines in our hearts even now. Thanks be to God.