Friday, 5 February 2010

A late post for Candlemas

I still have a memory which must go back to the time after the birth of my brother. I would have been six - nearly 48 years ago. It’s the memory of sitting in a pew at the back of our local church, the one my parents still attend, while my Mother went to the front of the church and the Vicar said prayers with her. I don’t think anyone else was there. My Father was probably back home with the baby. I didn’t really know what was going on - but I suppose it was that service which the Prayer Book quaintly calls, “The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth, commonly called The Churching of Women.” It’s a service I’ve never used. It is a thanksgiving service - appropriate after a child is born. But the way it was used made it more of a service of purification. This was something that had to be done - and done to a woman. I have had the experience of a new mother ringing from hospital to say that she needed to be “churched” before her own mother would let her back in the house - I’m glad to say that it was a long time ago. But it begs the question about expectation, superstition, getting thanksgiving right, and what faith is truly about...

Well that's the second paragraph of the sermon I preached last Sunday as we celebrated Candlemas. You can read the whole thing here. Sorry it's appearing rather late. With the end of the "Christmas cycle" I'm rather relieved to have a couple of Sundays of Ordinary / Green Time, but we're already gearing up for Lent.

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