Candlemas Sunday, Spanish Class Starting, Looking Towards Lent and more in the E-Newsletter for February 2, 2020 – Available in full online here.
Haga clic aquí para ver el mensaje de esta semana en español de nuestro misionero latino, Luis Valencia.
From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
This week's message from Fr. Jared is reprinted from his cover for this month's Parish Page.
When February 2 rolls around, most people think of Groundhog Day.
This day comes from a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that, when the groundhog emerges from his hole on February 2, if he sees his shadow we will have six more weeks of winter. If the day is cloudy and he cannot see his shadow, then spring will arrive early. Of course, there is no science behind this, but it makes for a fun tradition (and an excellent movie!)
However, this tradition actually comes from a far more ancient practice: the festival of Candlemas, officially called The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. According to law, forty days after Christmas (hence February 2) Jesus’s family would have presented him in the temple and made the appropriate offering. The text in Luke 2:22–40 tells us they offered two birds as their sacrifice. This tells us they were a poor family, as that was the sacrifice allowed for those who could not afford the normal one. The encounter aged Simeon and Anna, who each prophesy about Jesus’ coming ministry and importance. This feast is actually the traditional ending of the Christmas celebrations (and is still the end of Christmas in countries like Puerto Rico).
Candlemas is actually one of the oldest feasts in the church, dating from the early fourth century. The pilgrim Egeria even recounts how that feast was observed in Jerusalem on February 2 in the early 380s. The feast has developed differently around the world, but in the Anglican tradition it is customary to bring candles from your home to the church to be blessed on Candlemas alongside of the church candles for the coming year. The association with candles comes from St. Simeon’s prophesy, where he held the child 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.”
There was also a special rhyme for the day, related to the weather, “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another fight. If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, winter won’t come again.” THAT is where the Groundhog Day tradition actually comes from.
This year Candlemas falls on a Sunday—this coming Sunday, actually!—and it is one of the few Major Feasts of the Church that takes precedence on a Sunday. So we’ll be observing it at St. John’s at all three of our worship services at 8:30am and 10am in English and then at 12:45pm in Spanish. We will begin with the blessing of candles in the Timberlake Hall (please do bring any candles from home you would like to have blessed!) and then processing into the church.
And now you know, if the weather is cloudy, rainy, or snowy this Sunday, winter is close to done!
Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, February 2, 2020 online here.
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