Homily for Candlemas 2005

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2010 at 12:44 am

Preached at All Saints’, Dunedin

This morning we commemorate Candlemas,
the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

The hopes and dreams of the old,
the prophetic figures of Simeon and Anna,
are met in the Christchild,
as his parents come to do what was customary under the Torah, the Law.
What any Jewish family might do.

Mary and Joseph come to offer the least gift under the Law,
meaning they were of humble means…
a couple of birds.

Today, too, we bless candles.
The “light to lighten the gentiles” is greeted in the Temple,
and we light candles to acknowledge that light.

The light of the Epiphany star,
the light that shines on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The act we commemorate today,
the offering of a sacrifice was called, under Jewish Law,
a Holocaust.

It can hardly have escaped your attention that this week .
marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation, the discovery,
of the Nazi deathcamp at Auschwitz in Poland.

A light cast by memory and the media
onto one if not the
most extraordinarily dark passages in human history.
Today let us hear the haunting words that Simeon also speaks to Mary,
“a sword will pierce your own soul too”,
as we remember the darkness that enveloped a Jewish mother and her son
on the hill of Calvary.

As people of the resurrection,
people called to bear light into dark places,
let us remember and pray,
60 years after Auschwitz, for the living and the dead.

And as we ask in disbelief, “where was God at Auschwitz?”
The reality and the metaphor of God incarnate
tells us God was in the gas chambers,
in the hellish dormitories,
in the hungry fields.
God was suffering with God’s children,
suffering beyond belief.

Paul writes,
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood,
Christ himself likewise shared the same things, …

only …because he himself was tested by what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

To hold light in dark places is our calling.
Let the burning of this candle
stand as a remembrance for those who have died,
a commitment to justice for the present
and a hope for the future
as a child today is presented in the temple
and the old greet that which is still becoming.
The music you are hearing was written by a Polish composer,
a setting of a prayer by a young Polish woman
inscribed on the wall of a Gestapo cell.

A prayer offered through Mary,
whose own suffering at the foot of the cross
this woman understands.

The Jewish prayer of the Dead, the Kaddish

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world
which God has created according to God’s will.
May God establish God’s kingdom in your lifetime and during your days,
and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon;
and say, Amen.

May God’s great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honoured,
adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One,
blessed be God, beyond all the blessings and hymns,
praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

God who creates peace in God’s celestial heights,
may God create peace for us and for all Israel;
and say, Amen.


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