Morning Service for Candlemas 2023


To look at life in all its fierceness, its anger and its pain, all its sorrow and bewildering suffering - and yet then to see also the salvation of our God.  To see the incredible paradox of life - the world as we know it, and the God that we come to know as its creator, the journey of accepting, even embracing such a paradox, is the journey of seeing the Christ of God.  The Christ born to heal, to forgive, to teach, to pray, and to be tortured, scourged, lashed and crucified.

Morning Service for Candlemas 2023

HYMN – Christ is the world’s light  H&S 19

  1. Christ is the world’s light, 

he and none other;

born in our darkness, he became our brother.

if we have seen him, 

we have seen the Father:

Glory to God on high.

2. Christ is the world’s peace, 

he and none other;

no man can serve him and despise his brother

who else unites us, one in God the Father?

Glory to God on high.

3. Christ is the world’s life, 

he and none other:

sold once for silver, murdered here, 

our Brother –

he who redeems us, 

reigns with God the Father:

Glory to God on high.

4. Give God the glory, God and none other:

give God the glory, Spirit, Son and Father:

give God the glory, God in Man my brother:

Glory to God on high.


Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen


Christ the light of the world has come to dispel the darkness of our hearts. In his light let us examine ourselves and confess our sins.
Lord of grace and truth, we confess our unworthiness
to stand in your presence as your children.
We have sinned:

Forgive and heal us.

The Virgin Mary accepted your call to be the mother of Jesus.
Forgive our disobedience to your will.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

The wise men followed the star to find Jesus the King.
Forgive our reluctance to seek you.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

Your Son our Saviour in humility accepted the baptism of John.
Forgive our pride and rejection of your ways.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

At a wedding in Cana Jesus changed water into wine.
Forgive our failure to let your transforming presence change us.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen


Almighty and ever-living God,

clothed in majesty,

whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,

in substance of our flesh:

grant that we may be presented to you

with pure and clean hearts,

by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

FIRST READING – Malachi 3.1-5

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

HYMN – Born in the night  H&S 17

1. Born in the night, 

Mary’s child,

a long way from your home:

coming in need,

Mary’s child,

born in a borrowed room.

2. Clear shining light,

Mary’s child,

your face lights up our way:

light of the world,

Mary’s child,

dawn on our darkened day.

3. Truth of our life,

Mary’s child,

you tell us God is good:

prove it is true,

Mary’s child,

go to your cross of wood.

4. Hope of the world,

Mary’s child,

you’re coming soon to reign:

King of the earth,

Mary’s child,

walk in our streets again.

GOSPEL -Luke 2.22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.


“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the sight of all people.”

So today we pretend that it’s the 2nd February and celebrate the last feast of Jesus’ infancy – Candlemas’ or more properly, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

We heard the story in the gospel reading.  St. Luke tells us how Mary and Joseph took Jesus into the Jerusalem temple to fulfil the requirements of the Law.  Luke seems to be a little confused about the Law of Moses.  The Levitical Law did not require the presence of the baby Jesus, only Mary needed to present herself for purification and to offer a sacrifice.  Her choice of two pigeons, the cheapest of the possibilities, would indicate Mary and Joseph’s poverty.  Luke also seems to be alluding to the principle of the sanctification of the first-born.  However, this required only the payment to a priest of five shekels.

Luke may have been trying to show that the household Jesus was born into was, although poor, devout and serious in the keeping of the Jewish Law, but it is what happens when they are in the Temple that matters far more to him.  They are accosted by these bold people, Simeon and Anna.

Simeon is an interesting character.  He is not described as a priest, or as someone who has any professional or official status in the Temple.  Luke doesn’t tell us that he is old, though perhaps he implies it, Simeon is just a devout and good man.  What makes him special is the vision God has given to him.  He sees in this 40 day old boy, held in the arms of two poor parents, not a helpless bawling baby, but the anointed of God.  Luke tells us that Simeon was inspired by the Holy Spirit, he makes it clear that this was no lucky guess but God-given insight.  And the insight went very far.

Simeon meets Mary and Joseph in either the court of the women or the court of the Gentiles.  And it is to the inclusiveness of God’s salvation that Simeon’s poetry is addressed.

But Simeon’s song, as well as encompassing the whole world, is also intensely personal.  ‘You dismiss your servant’… ‘My eyes have seen’…  It is also very difficult to translate, which, since it is poetry is hardly surprising, its message seems to owe much to the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 60.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

 3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

All this Simeon sees in one newborn baby.  But he sees far more, his words to Mary, specifically to her, are full of foreboding. Such a light as the light of Christ is not only a comfort and a joy, it is wide in its revealing illumination, and can be desperately uncomfortable and distinctly not a joy.  Simeon warns that the baby is to be a simeion an ensign or banner that is spoken against.  Mary’s own fate is also touched upon, those who accompany Jesus on his journey will not be unaffected by its end.  From the global Simeon comes again to the personal.  

His words – ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising again of many…’ perhaps lead us to see that falling and rising are inextricably linked – to rise again, one must first fall.  The path to new life must come through the valley of humiliation.  By the end of Jesus’ life even his best friends will have been humbled by failure, and it was only then that they could share in the risen life.

Anna is old, and she provides both the corroboration of a second witness, and the means of the communication of the prophetic revelation – Luke says that ‘she spoke about it to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.’ Revelation is good – but not good to many if kept to oneself.  And age is certainly no barrier.

So what are we to make of all this revelation? Just a ploy by Luke to further underline that Jesus was destined in the providence of God, to be who he was, and to do what he did?  Or is there more? The style and the choice of the words used would seem to suggest that Luke owed to others much of the telling of this incident in the Temple.  But that is by the by, the power of the words of Simeon, ‘Lord letest thou thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen thy salvation’ – often used at the end of a funeral – is that they were not only intensely personal to him, they can also be intensely personal to us.  Because they are, in a very real way, a declaration of the meaning and the purpose of our own lives – to see the salvation of our God.  

To look at life in all its fierceness, its anger and its pain, all its sorrow and bewildering suffering – and yet then to see also the salvation of our God.  To see the incredible paradox of life – the world as we know it, and the God that we come to know as its creator, the journey of accepting, even embracing such a paradox, is the journey of seeing the Christ of God.  The Christ born to heal, to forgive, to teach, to pray, and to be tortured, scourged, lashed and crucified.  

It is the journey of becoming aware that God embraces this world he made so completely that he would become its victim as well as its creator – would become so one with it that it was his blood that would flow to its earth, to join that of his own people.  When we have truly accepted that, taken it into our soul, made it one with ourselves then we will truly ‘depart in peace’ – and give glory to this mysterious God.


Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles: this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

HYMN – Longing for light, we wait in darkness  H&S 60

1.Longing for light, we wait in darkness.

Longing for truth, we turn to you.

Make us your own, your holy people,

light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light! 

Shine in our hearts. 

Shine through the darkness.

Christ be our light!

Shine in your church gathered today.

2. Longing for peace, our world is 


Longing for hope, many despair.

Your word alone has power to save us.

Make us your living voice.


3. Longing for food, many are hungry.

Longing for water, many still thirst.

Make us your bread, broken for others,

shared until all are fed.


4. Longing for shelter, many are homeless.

Longing for warmth, many are cold.

Make us your building, sheltering others,

walls made of living stones.


5. Many the gifts, many the people,

many the hearts that yearn to belong.

Let us be servants to one another,

Making your kingdom come.


INTERCESSIONS – Katherine Royle

Let us take a moment to focus on what a blessing it is to be able to come into God’s presence to pray.

We thank you Father that our relationship with you has been restored through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.  We acknowledge that we are not able, in our human capacity, to fully comprehend how awesome and  great you are.  It is wonderful that you are with us as we pray together and we ask that you strengthen our faith and give us your vision.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our politicians and other leaders.  The recurrent struggles and unrest in this country are distressing and worrying.  Please protect the most vulnerable people who are affected by the strikes and the rising cost of living.  We ask that those in positions of authority in all disciplines and areas of society will conduct themselves with integrity and be given a clear understanding of the needs and issues that everyone is facing.  Please give them the ability to negotiate and plan ahead wisely and sensibly.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for world issues where we long for you to intervene.  We boldly ask that you crush the plans and actions of those seeking power or gain without any regard for human suffering.  We think of countries embroiled in war, the victims of human trafficking and slavery, refugees who have been misplaced, people who are suffering at the hands of regimes who deny democracy, freedom of speech and religion and ignore human rights.

Forgive us when we don’t appreciate the blessings and freedom that we enjoy from living in a democratic country. Help us to keep those who are suffering very much in our prayers.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You ask us, as Christians, to be salt of the earth.  As humans we so often fail to reflect you.  Help us to be mindful of another parable about Jesus being the vine and we the branches.  May we be attached to the vine so that we don’t struggle in our own strength to live by your values and show your love to others.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Let us pause now to pray for those we know who may be suffering health issues or experiencing financial difficulties, struggling with grief or other problems.  We lift them up to you and ask that you will meet them in their needs and give them comfort and strength. Help us not to be immune to the needs of others but help us also to be grateful and enjoy the many blessings that you give us each day.

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.


May he who who by his incarnation 

gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, 

grant us the fullness of peace and goodwill 

and the blessing of God Almighty, 

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 

be upon us and remain with us always. Amen

HYMN – Walk in the light  H&S 92

1. The Spirit lives to set us free, 

walk, walk in the light. 

He binds us all in unity, 

walk, walk in the light. 

Walk in the light, walk in the light, 

walk in the light, walk in the light of the Lord. 

2. Jesus promised life to all,

walk, walk in the light.

The dead were wakened by his call,

walk, walk in the light.


3. He died in pain on Calvary,

walk, walk in the light,

to save the lost like you and me,

walk, walk in the light.


4. We know his death was not the end,

walk, walk in the light.

He gave his Spirit to be our friend,

walk, walk in the light. 


5. By Jesus’ love our wounds are healed,

walk, walk in the light.

The Father’s kindness is revealed,

walk, walk in the light. 


6. The Spirit lives in you and me,

walk, walk in the light.

His light will shine for all to see,

walk, walk in the light. 


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

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