On the fourth Sunday of Epiphany, St. James’ Stalmine gave a warm welcome to members of the other Over Wyre churches. Venerable David Picken, Archdeacon of Lancaster led the joint Holy Communion service to commemorate Candlemas, the occasion when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple; and Simeon and Anna recognised Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Christ.
Archdeacon David opened the service with an amusing story with pertinent local significance! Following his early morning interview on Radio Lancashire, a local traffic report drew immediate attention to traffic lights in place on Hall Gate Lane, Stalmine – his destination. How enlightening! Talk about his own personal service…
The theme of ‘LIGHT’ continued…glittering candles decorated window ledges, the Paschal candle flickered brightly at the chancel steps, the joint choirs and congregation sang out boldly, proclaiming Christ’s light in the world and the readings resonated with words and phrases reflecting LIGHT: ‘fire’, ‘gold’, ‘silver’, ‘glory’, ‘a light for revelation’.
(Click here to view a professional performance of the anthem sung by the joint choirs during communion.)
The newly-formed, ‘Sunday Kids’ Club’ also prayed about Jesus’ light shining brightly in our local streets and communities, using their uniquely created map. The little ones crafted their own, special, battery powered candles, wrapping them in paper upon which they had written difficult, sad and painful things to show that Jesus’ light shines through even in the darkest and hardest of places. Blindfold games of hide and seek were played by the youngsters, which illustrated the challenges of darkness, in comparison to playing the same game with open eyes. The group chatted about how Jesus came to reveal things so that we can see more clearly and how we can share Jesus’ light with others too.
The Feast of Candlemas has a special significance in the life of the Church. It brings together our thinking of Christmas just past, the Epiphany period now coming to a close and the enlightening revelation of God made man as we move forward in the Church calendar. Archdeacon David spoke about how our Baptismal candle, (representative of ourselves) lit and received on our behalf from the Paschal candle (representative of Jesus) invites us to shine a LIGHT in the world to the glory of God the Father. He challenged the congregation to do this through the lives we lead and by our witness to Christ.
Almighty God, we thank you for your mercy and your grace: you are our light in the darkness, our strength in weakness and our comfort in sorrow. You heal our bodies and our minds, and ease our pain. You lift our anxieties and give us hope. So fill us with your Spirit’s power that we may show the light of your healing love to a world in need, and bring glory to your Name. Amen.