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Thursday 2 February 2023 The Presentation of Christ

07 February 2023

Presenting the light of Christ

Malachi 3:1-5; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

By Liz Clutterbuck

Priest-in-Charge, Emmanuel Hornsey Road, Islington, Post Ordination Training Director for Stepney and Two Cities Area, London

Context: an inner-city parish in North London, with a diverse, multi-cultural congregation

Aim: to encourage people to share Christ’s light with all


Forty days after we celebrated Jesus’s birth, we celebrate his presentation at the temple by his parents and their encounter with two prophets. Candlemas — the feast of the presentation of Christ in the Temple — marks the conclusion of Epiphany and the Christmas season. The revelation of the Messiah to Simeon and Anna is a continuance of the epiphany of the Magi, an affirmation that Christ has come for all.

In the context of our gospel reading, ‘presenting Jesus’ meant performing the ritual required of his parents according to Jewish law — an act of purification for Mary and to set aside their firstborn son to God. Jesus did not actually need to be present for this, but because he is brought to the temple it enables a second presentation to take place — to Simeon and to Anna. But what does it mean to present Jesus in our world today?


We are finally at the end of the Christmas season, but many in our society would have little or no idea of this. For them, Christmas was finished by 6 January or much earlier, cleared away in a rush of new year cleaning. Every year I look out for the first discarded Christmas tree on the streets — it often appears on Christmas Eve as shops clear their festive cheer to make way for Boxing Day sales. The light of Christmas cast out upon the pavement before the feast has truly begun!

In medieval times, the tradition was to keep up Christmas decorations until Candlemas. For weeks in the depths of winter, Christmas lights would have shone amidst the wreaths of greenery. How I wish this was the case still! Living in London, I would love the beautiful lights of the West End (especially the angels of Piccadilly) to stay up until February because they brighten up the winter gloom.

With Candlemas comes a reminder of the light that Jesus brings into the darkness. A light that we can share by presenting Jesus to others.


‘The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple,’ Malachi prophesies. For Simeon, this word is fulfilled when he attends the Temple at the Spirit’s urging, encountering the Lord he has been waiting for in the form of a baby. It is a moment of great joy for both Simeon and Anna as they praise God for this saviour of the world. In the words of Simeon, Jesus was to be ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel’. A light for all. But praise is not all that is declared at the Temple. Simeon’s words to Mary contain a warning — there will be opposition to the Messiah and a sword will pierce her soul.

Today we stand at a point where behind us is the joy and celebration of Christmas; ahead of us, the season of Lent culminating in the pain and suffering of Holy Week. The light comes into the world at a cost. It faces opposition, it will be cast out.

We know that when Jesus is presented in our world, he is not easily received. The baby Jesus of the nativity is more acceptable, but even he is forgotten by many before the Christmas season is over.

Let us follow in the footsteps of Simeon and Anna, praising God for the gift of Jesus and proclaiming his identity as the Saviour of the world. Let us present Christ to those we meet as a light that shines in the darkness of our world; and as God-made-human, who faced pain and difficulties, ultimately overcoming them to share with us the gift of eternal life.

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