Grace and peace to you in the name of the Holy and Blessed Trinity!

27 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, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

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

Giovanni Bellini Nunc Dimittis   ca. 1501-1510                 

On February 2, forty days after Christmas, the church commemorates Jesus’ presentation in the temple.  You can read the scripture reading for the Presentation of Our Lord, also known as Candlemas, in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 2, verses 22-40.  It is a day focusing on the light of Christ and how that light reveals God’s grace, love, and mercy.  In some Christian churches it is a day to bless the candles that remind us of Christ as the Light of the World as well as blessing those who work with candles in worship—acolytes.  Candlemas or candle mass services highlight the significance of this Biblical theme.  

Simeon’s song, known as the Nunc Dimittis, is often used in Lutheran liturgies as a post-communion canticle.  Its words send us on our way to share the light of the revelation we have received in God’s Word and Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Simeon’s song reminds us that in Christ our heavenly creator grants us salvation and dismisses us out into the world in peace to share the light of salvation with all the world.

In these mid-winter days of less daylight, this emphasis on light can be a beacon of hope.  The stained-glass window at the front of Christ Lutheran’s sanctuary reminds us that Christ is the light of the world and that each and every one of us is part of that world.  May this season of light remind you that Christ’s light shines on us as a free and remarkable gift from God.  May we depart church, homes, schools, and places of work committed to sharing the peaceful and hope-filled light of Christ with others.  May we be beacons of light to others encouraging and helping them in their times of need.  May we shine Christ’s light that it might warm their grieving hearts, strengthen their weakness, sustain their weariness, and guide them to be lights too!  Let your light so shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven. Those words from Matthew 5:16 are used at the end of the baptismal liturgy as a charge to the newly baptized and to all of us.  May we let the light of Christ shine not for our glory but that others might be warmed, enlightened and inspired recognizing God as the true and everlasting source of the light.

Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Stephen Herr

[1] From Jerome’s Vulgate translation of the passage which reads “Now let depart.”