When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. Luke 2:22
Dear Friends and Members of Lake of the Isles, it is always a discussion in our house when the Christmas decorations must be put away. The Christmas tree is easy. It must be standing through the 12 days of Christmas to the day of Epiphany on January 6th. Some years that’s a little risky when the needles begin to rain down when you walk by. In Scandinavia, Christmas trees are allowed to stand until January 13th, a day that is called the 20th Day of Knut. As the tree is carted away the last cookies and sweets are eaten. The Swedes even have a name for this ritual, “Julgransplundring,” which roughly translates as “the Christmas tree plundering.”
There is one other traditional date for marking the end of the Christmas season and that is Candlemas, February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. According to St. Luke’s gospel, the infant Jesus was brought by Mary and Joseph to the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the law of Moses, this was the fortieth day since Jesus’ birth. . It was during this visit that the old prophet Simeon, who had been assured that he was to see the Messiah before his death, saw the couple and their infant son Jesus walking across the Temple courtyard. According to St. Luke gospel, Simeon took the child in his arms and announced, “Now, oh God, I can leave this world in peace- for I have seen my salvation.” He then spoke the prophecy that Jesus would be the light for all the world.
Martin Luther himself felt that the story of Candlemas captured the fullness of God’s love and grace. In a sermon for Candlemas he wrote Simeon’s prophetic word, “God has ‘prepared salvation,’ which fact clearly indicates that He is merciful and does not desire our death; yea, He has prepared this salvation for “all the people,” that everyone might enjoy his blessing.”
Candlemas is a natural day to put away the last Christmas decorations. And so our worship service on Candlemas will feature candlelight, the Sunday School children singing, and a hint of a Christmas carol or two. But there will also be a clear sense that we are moving away from the nativity toward the cross of Calvary. It is there, like Simeon, that we are given the assurance that we need not fear death. It is there that we will see our salvation.
The stars will keep guiding through this Epiphany season to remind us that the good news of salvation is for all the world to see.
Peace, Pastor Arden Haug