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In the Church's calendar, Candlemas, or the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, is celebrated on February 2nd, or on the nearest Sunday. In some cultures, Candlemas was the day when weather patterns were often predicted.

An old English song goes:

                                                If Candlemas be fair and bright,
                                                Come winter, have another flight;
                                                If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,

                                                Go winter, and come not again.

Thus if the sun cast a shadow on Candlemas day, more winter was on the way; if there was no shadow, winter was thought to be ending soon.

On this day, we remember the occasion (the 40th  day after Jesus was born) when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to 'present him' before God. St. Luke tells us that, after Mary and Joseph had done all that was necessary under the Law of Moses, two faithful people, Simeon and Anna, gave testimony as to who this child really was.

At Candlemas we leave Christmas behind us and look forward to Lent and Easter.

Christmas focuses on a child, but it is surprising how many older and even elderly people occur in the story. We remember John the Baptist's parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, who were both getting on in years. Then at Candlemas we have Simeon and Anna. The words of Simeon's song, the Nunc Dimittis, would seem to imply that he was an old man coming to the end of his days. And we are told that Anna was a great age.

A few days ago I was having a conversation with someone from another church, a woman, I suspect to be well into her eighties. ‘ I'm thinking of coming off the PCC', she said, ‘I'm not sure I have any new ideas.' She also told me how a hospital consultant in a letter to her doctor, had described her as ‘well preserved', which made her chuckle with delight!

When I was training for my Social Work career, quite early on after placements in children's homes, working with foster parents, looking into child protection, I decided that my aptitude led me to work with older adults. As a child, I had spent much time with adults and enjoyed their company. As a very ‘PC ‘colleague of mine used to say, it's not just about history but  also her story.

In some senses I feel that Candlemas is a celebration of older people, their value, their worth, their wisdom... But we know that for many older people the quality of their life is not good. James Sharp when he preached in November reminded us how many lonely, isolated older people there are in Bournemouth. He nudged us to consider what we might do to alleviate this issue and respond to this need.

In some senses, new ideas are not needed here, the old ones work well. So as we move through 2019 maybe we can reflect as to how we can, as a Church Family, meet the challenge that James gave us. Meeting older people in their situations and acting as Christ's light in the world in as many ways as we are able would certainly be a good place to start.

Enjoy your Candlemas and let's hope on February 2nd for clouds and rain!

With every blessing,

Ruth Crosland
Licensed Lay Minister