A letter from the Vicarage – Rev’d Andy Stand

This year, February, is a month of endings and beginnings and of the time in between.

In terms of the church’s calendar, what I like to call the Greater Christmas season (Advent, Christmas and Epiphany), draws to its close. The celebration of the Feast of Candlemas, (alternatively called the Presentation of Christ at the Temple) takes place on 2nd February and marks the end of the Epiphany season.

Candlemas, is 40 days after Christmas; and we remember, that in accordance with the custom of the day, Mary and Jospeh bought Jesus to the temple, 40 days after his birth, so that Mary could be ritually ‘purified’ after the bloodshed of having given birth!

It is probably the closest thing in Jesus’ life to our services of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child, or infant baptism.

At the other end of the month, on 26th February, we begin the season of Lent; the season of forty days of self-denial, self-examination and preparation for Easter. We begin with our services for Ash Wednesday, and we will hear again the words, “Remember, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; turn away from your sin and remain faithful to Christ.”

So, we have an ending, and a beginning, and 23 days in between.

In many ways, life as whole is like that: we have a beginning: our births; and we will have an ending: our deaths; and life is the adventure of filling the bit in between.

Life is the gift of God, given to us all at our conceptions; death is the gift of God, given to us all as a call to abide in His presence surrounded by His love, for eternity; and the days in between are given to us that we may grow in our relationship with one another, and with God.

On one of the Fridays, in that in between time, St. Valentine’s Day, will, for many of us, have love in the air: cards and gifts will be sent and received as tokens of our love, as tokens of the specialness of particular relationships for us, and to us. For some there may be risk involved in the sending of such tokens: the love they represent may not be reciprocated! Hearts may end up being broken!

On one of the Sundays, in that in between time, we hear the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, when with three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, Jesus is led up a mountain and his appearance changes such that his face shines like the sun and his clothes become dazzling white. Moses and Elijah, two of the Old Testament prophets also appear on the mountain top with them and God speaks endorsing Jesus as His beloved son.

At whatever stage of the adventure, you find yourself to be in, at the moment; whatever point in your relationships with others; whatever point in your relationship with God; remember we are all beloved children of God, and should take confidence in that and in Him.

Every blessing…

Revd. Andy Stand

St. Philip & St. James Parish Church Whittington, Worcs. WR5 2RQ