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Views from the Vicarage - February 2019

Dear Friends,

We have just started a new youth group in Ellesmere at S. Mary's. Though this is open to any young people in the Deanery and is co-lead by Jenny Wright from Colemere and myself with the help of Helen Gilman from S. Mary's. It started from those who have been Confirmed at Ellesmere but can include anyone who is interested. We are going to meet on the first Sunday of each month at 5pm at S. Mary's, the next meeting being 3rd February 5-6pm. Our first meeting was on January and 11 young people and three leaders went to Shrewsbury bowling. We all had a great time and it was a very good start to our youth group!

The First Sunday of February we are keeping as Candlemas. In bygone centuries, Christians said their last farewells to the Christmas season on Candlemas. This is exactly 40 days after Christmas Day itself.

In New Testament times 40 days old was an important age for a baby boy: it was when they made their first 'public appearance'. Mary, like all good Jewish mothers, went to the Temple with Jesus, her first male child - to 'present Him to the Lord'. At the same time, she, as a new mother, was 'purified'. Thus, we have the Festival of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

So where does the Candlemas bit come in? Jesus is described in the New Testament as the Light of the World, and early Christians developed the tradition of lighting many candles in celebration of this day. The Church also fell into the custom of blessing the year's supply of candles for the church on this day - hence the name, Candlemas.

The story of how Candlemas began can be found in Luke 2:22-40. Simeon's great declaration of faith and recognition of who Jesus was is of course found in the Nunc Dimittis, which is embedded in the Office of Evening Prayer. But in medieval times, the Nunc Dimittis was mostly used just on this day, during the distribution of candles before the Eucharist. Only gradually did it win a place in the daily prayer life of the Church.

My Prayers and best wishes,

Fr. Philip Edge - Vicar