I hear that some of you are wondering why the crib is still in place before the High Altar, when all the Christmas decorations are now down and we are once again in Ordinary Time. Well, the short answer is, it is because the Vicar says so – I know power mad. There is however a slightly longer answer. We have the traditional twelve days of Christmas after which we remove our Christmas decorations, then we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany which, if we look at our readings for Sunday morning, continues for about three weeks. Finally we have that number 40 again. “forty days and forty nights” so goes the Lent hymn referring to Jesus’ temptation. It’s also the length of Lent and the time between Easter and Pentecost, so the Church uses 40 days after Christmas to take us up to the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also called the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Candlemass. On this day the Church celebrates the moment Mary entered the temple with the child Jesus after her days of purification required by Jewish Law were over. Jesus is presented in the temple “to do for him according to the custom of the law” Luke 2:27 and Candlemas because of the words Simeon proclaims upon seeing Jesus. “To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel.” Lk 2:29 Nunc Dimittis Prayer Book.
On a completely different note – pardon the pun. We are introducing some new congregational mass settings on Sunday mornings, we hope as we continue to sing them you will feel more able to participate in the liturgy. There will be more rehearsals and we will print the music in our Sunday mass books for those who find the black dots helpful. The idea is that we will use a different mass setting per season; Advent, Christmas, Lent Easter, and use two or three additional settings for Ordinary time.
I wonder how many of you were glued to the TV last Friday watching the 45th president of the United States being sworn into office. You will have been a welcome addition to the statistics that seem to be so important to the new residents of the White House! We decided to indulge in a little escapism instead (and caught up on the day’s news later) by going to see the new film ‘La La Land’. It’s a place many of us wondered whether we were heading for during that day’s events!
What a great decision that was, and how we enjoyed a bit of light relief, although the story is not just a composition of trivial froth. As one member of clergy commented later: ‘It’s a film that makes us think afresh about love, dreams, sacrifice and purpose. It raises poignant questions about priorities, choices and relationships. Is there a love that can endure?’ We’re reminded that Jesus took human form and came into this world to show us what true love looks like, representing the enduring love of God for each one of us. And at its very best, that’s what human love can look like.
So as we observe events unfolding in the USA let’s pray for the people of that country, that they may know the love of God in their lives. Let’s also hope and pray that their new leaders might learn to govern with wisdom, justice and generosity of spirit towards all people.
With every blessing