Fr David's Sermon
29th January 2006
Clergy are famously, if somewhat dismissively, said to ‘hatch, match and dispatch’, which means we are concerned with baptisms, marriages and funerals, with what sociologists call rites of passage. This is not surprising since Christianity is concerned with the whole of life from cradle to grave and beyond.
We see that concern and breadth of vision in today’s Candlemas Gospel, St. Luke’s account of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. Candlemas is a bittersweet festival. It looks forward to Lent and Passiontide and back to Christmas, to cross and crib if you like. It invites us to reflect deeply on the person of Jesus and to also consider our own lives, our beginning and our end and all that lies in between.
Candlemas invites us to consider human life from its beginning to its close with all its joys and sorrows. It invites us to look back (to the crib) to our beginnings and to look forward to our endings (the cross), it invites us to see salvation in the person of Jesus.
I leave you with fascinating conundrum and a possible solution. Generations of schoolboys, knowing that Christianity believes in the Resurrection of the body, have wondered how old we will be in heaven. Will babies spend eternity in an infant state and will the very old and decrepit be forced to spend eternity with their infirmities? The answer is to be found in medieval paintings as Bishop Christopher told us when he came the other year. If you look at the naked, embodied souls newly risen from the dead you will see that they all look about thirty. Not a bad age to be, still good looking with just that slight edge of maturity.
But there is a reason for heaven being populated by the seemingly thirty-something; it is because Jesus died on the cross aged about thirty. As a perfect human, like us save without sin, it is fitting that we should be like him in eternity.
Candlemas reminds us of the infinite value of human life as God given. It invites us to consider own lives from a Christ like perspective. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, stands at the centre of everything. It is from that perspective that we see salvation, hold it in our arms.Amen
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