Light a Candle—or All of Them
Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God, saying, “Now my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” — Luke 2:28-32 (NRSVUE, abridged)
Whenever I start to get worked up over all the cool spiritual traditions I missed out on in my fundamentalist upbringing, I try to remember that I was also spared some toxic teachings and not-so-cool customs. I figure the missed good and the escaped bad mostly cancel each other out, and grace has more than made up for it all.
But then I’m like: Wait. What? There’s a Christian festival for candles and no. one. told. me?!?
Maybe you, too, have lived most of your life unaware of the ancient holy day called Candlemas (observed February 2nd), when a special blessing is said over all the candles for the year. If so, I invite you to join me in making the best of what time we have left today:
Light a candle and give joyful thanks for Christ, the light of the world no shadow can overcome. Gather every candle you have and give thanks for the lengthening and brightening of days as we move toward spring. Bask in candlelight and give thanks for all the Christian traditions that were (and are) connected to nature.
Your Candlemas observance doesn’t have to be a formal church thing. You needn’t have any well-reasoned theological justification for it. Just open your heart and lean into whatever blessing it has for you. Because God.
For the light of the world. For Candlemas and Groundhog Day and all manner of customs that celebrate the earth and our creator. We praise you for it all.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.