Revd Sharon Letter
The Snowdrop, in purest white array, first rears her head on Candlemas Day. An old Folklore Rhyme
Candlemas I doubt whether many people today would know what Candlemas is. It is a feast of the Church, celebrated on 2 February, which commemorates the purification, under Jewish religious law, of Mary, the mother of Christ, 40 days after his birth; it also commemorates the presentation of the infant Christ in the Temple given in the story of the elderly Simeon and Anna (Luke2: 21-38). Candlemas long meant something else as well, in practical terms, especially in the Middle Ages: it was the day when everyone in the parish brought their year’s supply of candles to church to be blessed by the priest. One candle from each household would be lit, and carried in procession, to be placed before a statue of the Virgin Mary. I am reminded of the many times I have visited gloomy medieval cathedrals and churches in France, Spain and Italy, and have added my candle to those left by those who have much faith, and those who have little – but together they become a light in the darkness.
Snowdrops Another source of brightness was also closely associated with Candlemas: snowdrops. Candlemas bells they were once called, and it is easy to see how they were the perfect flowers for the feast – flawless symbols of purity. Even today many of our best snowdrop displays are found clustered around churchyards and ancient religious foundations, ruined abbeys and priories, where they were planted with Candlemas in mind.
Baptism Candlemas also reminds us of our own Baptism and being presented in the Church by our parents and Godparents. If you are interested in Baptism for yourself or a child, I would be delighted to hear from you, and there is information about this on the church website. As we emerge from the dark, dreary days of December take time to notice the snowdrops; take time to gently lift their heads to see what amazingly beautiful faces they have. And remember that at our Baptism we are called to ‘Shine as lights in the world, to the glory of God the Father’.
Every blessing, Sharon
Candlemas Services – Sunday, 2 February at 9.30 am and at 5 pm there will be a special Choral Evensong.
Annual Snowdrop Service – Sunday 16 February at 3 pm