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If we listened at school we might recall that historically people gave each other decorated eggs (they still do in some Eastern European countries), the egg reminding us that life comes from within, a symbolic link and connection with the tomb of Jesus and the story of his resurrection.It will soon be Easter and once again the young a
As you read this article the Church will have just celebrated the Festival of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, ‘Candlemas’ as it is more affectionately known. This festival held on the 2nd February officially marks the end of Christmas. 40 days after we have celebrated the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem we remember that Mary and Joseph, as custom required, present their first born in the temple in Jerusalem. The visit is marked by encounters with two ageing characters Simeon and Anna who both praise God that they have been given the opportunity in their lives to set eyes on God’s son, the long-expected Messiah. In his encounter with the Holy Family, Simeon utters those well-known words found in the canticle Nunc Dimittis, ‘the light to enlighten the nations’.
The idea of Jesus being the ‘Light of the World’ has led to this celebration of light conquering the darkness and churches are often decked with candles as they mark this festival. It was historically the day that the Church blessed its candles for use in the coming year, hence the name Candlemas. The idea of Christ being the light of hope, love and salvation is at the heart of the Christian message which we share with the world and should be central to the missional message we share with all who we encounter.
On the 21st January the Churches of our Benefice signed a covenant with the Yate Team Ministry in a special service with Bishop Lee and by doing so we became officially the second designated ‘Mission Area’ in the Diocese of Bristol. In this covenant we are committing to work together and support each other as we focus on the Mission of the Church to make the light of Christ’s love known to the world and in particular our local communities. We are not only committing to a number of actions, we are also sharing a real expectation and hope. As the covenant document states, we are undertaking this commitment “in the expectation that God will work in and through us to share His love so that His Kingdom will grow in Yate and Fromeside and that following the Holy Spirit’s lead, we will see prayer answered and the good news of Jesus releasing people to experience life in all its fullness”.
The light of Christ, which we celebrate at Candlemas, brings new life in both our relationship with God and each other, relationships rooted in a love which embrace and value all people. As the Iona Prayer so boldly, states ‘Goodness is stronger than Evil, Love is stronger than Hate, Light is stronger than Darkness, Truth is stronger than Lies’.
My hope and prayer is that these truths of our faith will be at the forefront of our work with Yate and as a benefice, but more importantly will be at the heart of our very lives as followers of Jesus the ‘Light of the World’.
Rector of the Fromeside Benefice of Churches
- Church Road
- Frampton Cotterell
- South Glos
- BS36 2AB