This year we celebrated the end of the Christmas season with three services of Candlemas!
First, was at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity in Kendal, when over 115 people – including the two bishops and their wives - gathered to celebrate the Candlemas festival and to say farewell to our Archdeacon, Penny Driver. Almost 1000 candles illuminated this beautiful church as the Revd Rob Saner-Haigh welcomed us all. Bishop James celebrated the Eucharist, with our curate Andrew as his deacon. Penny had devised this special service, and the choir sang Psalm 24 as the servers lit the candles which we had each been given. We sang the Peruvian glora, Lily Hopkins, Lay Chair of the Kendal Deanery, read the first lesson from 2 Corinthians 4, Andrew read the gospel from St Luke 2, and Penny gave the sermon on the theme of ‘Jesus Christ, the light of the world’. She urged us to take that light forward into our troubled world. This fits in with our Diocesan vision of ‘God for All’. The Revd Canon Angela Whittaker, Rural Dean of Kendal, led the intercessions, and the final hymn was:
Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.
It was a truly memorable service, and we wish Penny well as she begins her well-earned retirement. It is good to have her living in the Rectory before she moves into her new home in Kents Bank.
The second service was the 11am parish eucharist at St Paul’s, when we celebrated, again, the feast of Candlemas.
The third celebration was a special family service entitled Cake and Candlemas. Cake services are held throughout the year to welcome families and friends and to celebrate key events in the church year. Each one is held after a crafting and activity event in school and enables us all to participate. 94 people were at this service.
And so, the candles were lit and the lights went out and the story unfolded. The children from school brought the candleholders they had made at the school event and adults were given tea lights to hold up to bring light into the darkness.
Toby Wheatcroft did a sterling job in narrating the Candlemas story as it started 40 days after the birth of Jesus. The children processed with candles and Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus and the lantern-bearer came to the temple to bring an offering of 2 doves. Mary was played by Holly Lloyd, Joseph by her sister Lily, and the lantern-bearer by Kacey Procter.
Simeon, the old priest, came to the temple and received the baby and the offering of the doves, as was the custom at that time. Simeon was amazed that he had now seen the Messiah. Anna, a prophetess, was in the temple and recognised the baby they had been waiting for.
Simeon blessed the child and Mary, Joseph and Jesus returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth, and as they did the congregation stood to follow and processed with lights around the church to the altar where Revd Andrew blessed the candles. It was a wonderful sight to see so many people and candles shining in the dark bringing the service to a very moving finale.
Our poster advertised the event as a celebration to draw the Christmas season to a close and celebrate Candlemas together, with songs, story, candles, cake and ‘the warmest of welcomes’. Amazingly, this nearly came true when the cake of wishes for Baby Jesus ‘burst into flames’ behind Revd Andrew as he blessed the candles!!
We promise not to do this at our next Cake Service on Palm Sunday, April 9th, when we enact the story of Easter week in a short family friendly service, Cake and Crosses. Come along, wave the palms, walk through holy week, break bread together, peep into the garden of Gethsemane and follow the amazing events leading from the sadness of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Day.