This year February has quite a few memorable events. The most obvious being that it is a leap year making it a twenty-nine-day month. This will be especially helpful to all those people who have a birthday on that day. I particular like leap years as you avoid the mistake of putting February dates in your diary in March. Normally if you get the wrong month the date and day do not match up and you see your mistake immediately. It is not much fun being a month early or a month late for an appointment!
The second of February sees the end of the Christmas season, it is celebrated for forty days. This year helpfully it lands on a Sunday. The end of Christmas is marked by Candlemas, it remembers when Jesus was presented at the temple when he was forty days old. Simeon sees great promise in Jesus and warns Mary that it will be painful, ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too’. At Candlemas, candles were blest for the year. There is already a sense of the darkness of the cross being foreboding and the importance of the Christ light standing against it. I came across a weather prediction on the basis of Candlemas.
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, Winter is gone and won’t come again.
The end of February sees the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday 26th February. We see that foreshadowing of the cross that Simeon saw in the baby Jesus being played out some thirty or thirty-one years later in Jesus’ life. Lent takes us through the forty days to Easter. We need to get ready and be prepared. Simeon told Mary that it would be painful and involve the worst day of her life. Yet, she had to walk forward in faith and trust that God would carry her through her darkest day. We often have to keep going and pray for God’s help. In Lent, we are told to prepare in many different ways. We are encouraged to prepare by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word. I would encourage us all to try and get realigned with God and use this time of getting ready to adjust our lives into God’s way. Focusing on reading and meditating on God’s word, the Lent course might help you do this. It is on a Wednesday night starting on 28th February and runs for six weeks. It focuses on the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. Whatever you do for Lent try and make it help our world and the people around, then it should have a positive outcome!
Lastly, do not forget Shrove Tuesday on the 25th February. Better known as pancake day to many people. It has its origins in using up the rich food before the start of Lent. A reminder from the past, over four hundred years ago, not to waste food but use it carefully.
Rev. Martin Wood. The Rectory, Church Lane, Cheriton Bishop EX6 6HY 01647 24119 (Tuesday to Sunday) firstname.lastname@example.org