On 29 January we celebrated Candlemas. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 24, Malachi 3:1-5, Luke 2:22-40.
Candlemas falls 40 days after Christmas, though the number of days may vary if we move the celebration to our Sunday worship as we have this year. It is a festival full of so many meanings that it can be difficult to take it all in. Perhaps for that reason it has acquired four names to somehow encompass as much as possible.
First of all, we remember the ritual ‘Purification of the Virgin Mary’. After the birth of a son, Jewish custom demanded that a woman went to the temple to be ritually purified, having been classed as unclean for 7 days and then required to stay at home for the next 33 days. At this time, the health of the child was also prayed for, as this was considered to be a time when mortal danger for the child had passed. Luke tells us that the customary sacrifice was made, being a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons. This was in fact the sacrifice given by the poor. Had Mary and Joseph been better off they would have offered a lamb and a pigeon. Mary, the Theotokos, the God-bearer, had to pay the reduced rate for those in straitened circumstances. Continue reading