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Vicar's Musings for Candelmas

1 February, 2015

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall"

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) "Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve"

Candlemas (February 2nd) was traditionally the time when decorations were finally taken down, forty days after Christmas. After our services today, therefore, we will dismantle our Christmas Crib to mark the end of this great season of the Incarnation. The day is also known as The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, after the description in Luke 2:22-38 of the ritual purification of Mary and the presentation of Jesus in the Temple according to "the law of Moses" (Leviticus 12:1-8). It is an ancient feast, the earliest account going back to the fourth-century travel diary of a Galician (Spanish) nun, Egeria:

The fortieth day ... is undoubtedly celebrated here with the very highest honour, for on that day there is a procession, in which all take part, in the Anastasis, and all things are done in their order with the greatest joy, just as at Easter. All the priests, and after them the bishop, preach, always taking for their subject that part of the Gospel where Joseph and Mary brought the Lord into the Temple on the fortieth day, and Symeon and Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, saw him, treating of the words which they spake when they saw the Lord, and of that offering which his parents made. And when everything that is customary has been done in order, the sacrament is celebrated, and the dismissal takes place.

Today, as we continue this ancient tradition, we warmly welcome Bp Alison Taylor as our preacher and celebrant at Family Mass, and as preacher and presiding bishop at High Mass. Currently serving as Bishop of the Southern Region, in the Anglican Church Southern Queensland, +Alison was previously the Incumbent at St John's Camberwell and Archdeacon of Kew. Before ordination +Alison had a distinguished career in the public sector, including as a Board Member of the Renewable Energy Authority of Victoria, a Director of Tianjin Urban Conservation Project in China, and Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies at the Victorian University of Technology. We are delighted to welcome +Alison to St Peter's today, with her husband Trevor and mother-in-law Mrs Gwen Blake.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

Illustration for Candlemas Musings

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