Welcome to the website of the Benefice of Panteg and Griffithstown.
Happy New Year! The celebration of the New Year can touch people in so many different ways. As we listened to the chimes of Big Ben on New Year’s Eve so many would have looked forward to a new beginning with so many mixed feelings and emotions.
For many it is a joyous occasion, for others a time for sadness. In looking we cannot help looking back, reflecting on the last twelve months. We remember our achievements, our disappointments, our joys, our sorrows and the all too familiar phrases come to mind….I wish…if only…I hope… and we all hope that the year ahead will be better that the last for whatever reason.
The truth is none of us know what 2018 will bring…will it be happy? In many ways it seems unlikely. The fear of imminent wars, the use of weapons of mass destruction, extreme weather, infectious diseases, just some of the concerns in our world today and closer to home many will face life without a loved one, an ongoing illness with uncertainty for the future and many other issues known only to us personally…..and yet there is Hope.
The hope we need is well expressed in the Prophecy of Jeremiah. ‘For I know the plans I have for you‘, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray for me, and I will listen to you.’
Hope comes from remembering all that God has done for us, abd it gives us a promise of the future….2018 and beyond.
We are nearing the close oft he Christmas period and many may well wonder about that, as Christmas Day seems long gone and now in the past already. And yet the church does not complete its ‘Christmas‘ until the end of Epiphany and this is marked as a turning point in the Christian year. It’s just as though we say, ‘one last look at Christmas, and now turn towards the cross’. On the 2nd February we celebrate Candlemas, or the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
Why Candlemas? This was the day that the candles for the use in church in the coming year were blessed. However, this was was not the object if the feast…it was a reminder of the Song of Simeon, which we know as the Nunc Dimitus. This biblical song or canticle describes Jesus as ‘the light that lightens the Gentiles’. The gospel of Luke (Chapter 2 verses 22-40) tells of the duty of parents to present the first born child to God in the temple, and to redeem the child by offering a prescribed sacrifice. This very act reminded the people of the exodus from Egypt and the fact that to get Pharaoh to let the people go God had to perform the passover…. the slaying of the first born of the Egyptians. (see the Old Testament Book of Exodus Chapter 13). The Rite of Purification was also taking place … the rite of the re-admittance of a mother after childbirth to the religious ceremonies etc… It was for this also that offerings were made. (See the Book of Liviticus Chapter 12).
So we see that Candlemas, the Song of Simeon, the rites of the parents and the event itself are all connected. As I said earlier the Feast marks a significant turning point in our journey through the Christian year as we look towards the cross and direct our thoughts afresh to the suffering of Christ in his Passion. The candle is the symbol of the light that is Christ and the light we carry in our daily lives that draws others to Him. That same light which helps to illuminate for us and for others the true meaning of the Cross and Passion of our Lord. The Candlemas Eucharist ends with the final Responsary:
Father, here we bring to an end our celebration of the Saviour’s birth.
Help us, in whom he has been born, to live the life that has no end.
Here we have offered the Church’s sacrifice of praise.
Help us, who have received the bread of life, to be thankful for your gift.
Here we have rejoiced with faithful Simeon and Anna.
Help us who have found the Lord in his Temple, to trust your eternal promises.
Here we have greeted the Light of the World.
Help us, who now extinguish these candles, never to forsake the Light of Christ.
Here we turn from Christ’s birth to his Passion.
Help us, for whom Lent is near, to enter deeply into the Easter Mystery.
May our Lord give us hope, a new vision for the future, and a fresh awareness of God in or lives. Yours in Christ,