A light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for the glory of your people, Israel.Luke 2:32
Candles, groundhogs, and crêpes
Dear Friends in Christ,
February 2nd is Candlemas across Christianity, but we hear more about groundhogs these days. Maybe if we connected the candles with crêpes it would be more fun to remember.
OK — stick with me: I’m about to connect history, poetry, faith, and our mission, on February 2nd.
First, it is wonderful to be back. Some of you may not know that I was away! In 2021 we decided to delay my pastoral sabbatical, and I am just back from a month away from the office, and feeling great thanks for my old and new colleagues, our lay leaders, and some great guest worship leaders. But I’m happy to be back.
Second, even if you love Groundhog Day, you might want to know that it has a Christian history. Briefly, we’re 40 days past Christmas so in scripture (as above) it is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple. And the prophet Simeon, along with Anna, declared Jesus a light — but there’s more! In one phrase these prophets point out that Gentiles and Jews are connected (more below…), and this day in Christian history became one where Jesus as light was celebrated, so folks would bring candles to church to be blessed, hence Candle Mass, and then Candlemas. In many parts of Europe folks would eat crêpes on Candlemas, but there’s more! Our ancestors came up with this old English rhyme:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,
Go winter, and come not again.
Or, if you can see your shadow on February 2nd… Well, you know that story. Did you know it was ours?
At any rate, 2/2 is more than a movie or a promotion. It is a day in history that shows Mary and Joseph were observant Jews, that Gentiles and Jews are both given the love and light of God, and that this is something to celebrate with a treat, at least once a year.
But, again, there’s more.
A lot of us don’t know our history and these days many are declaring that we should not know our history. Some states are even trying to outlaw our history.
But February is Black History Month, not just Candlemas. And our Christian call not to be anti-Semitic is right there in Luke. And our Christian call to know the fulness of our kinship with all people of all colors is also right there across the Bible. So among our tasks as Christians is to know what happens when we cast a shadow, to know that we’re all called to love and light, and to remember how those who came before us heard all this from God, staked their lives on it, and endowed our generation with the same call of inclusion and respect. On Candlemas, during Black History Month — all year ‘round, we have a serious call to lives of faith based on truth and knowledge and hope. You know that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. So as a Christian, I believe that all of our history is important and I believe that all of our history touches the heart of God. So, have a crêpe if you wish. And pay attention to the importance of each day as we explore not only the history we inherit but also that which we are in the midst of making. That is really our call as Christians: to bring the love and light of God to today and tomorrow.
It is wonderful to be back.
See you in church,