We are ending Epiphanytide and soon to begin Pre-Lent. We have known the light of Christ and will soon have the light shine into our souls, revealing who we are.
Who we are is a good question, an important question, and one we all yearn to have answered. So we trundle through the Church Year, seeking and finding out. Christ comes to us in the Incarnation at Christmas, beginning the Church Year. He reveals himself throughout Epiphany – in the temple, his baptism, his miracle of water into wine, today his healing of Jew and Gentile alike. “Lord, let it be according to thy word. Speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.”
The word only. Indeed. We listen for the word and when we hear it we laugh for joy. We listen and when we hear it we are healed. Healed of self, of sin, of all the cancers that slowly corrupt and kill us, robbing us of him. We listen, throughout the year.
The end of January in California is a waiting time. Chilly, sometimes rainy, but dry this year and today clear with a haze that covered the evening sky. The days are longer and we wait for the lengthening, the Lent that will mark our next season of listening and watching and learning who we are. We ponder the meaning of God coming among us, becoming one of us.
Candlemas is this Thursday and we celebrate the presentation of the Christ child in the temple. We listen to the prophetic words of the aged Simeon as he and elderly Anna recognize who the child is – an epiphany. He has been waiting for this child that was promised to him: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Now Simeon has known the coming of the Messiah. Now he can go to God.
Candlemas appropriately has become a time in our Church when we bless the candles that will be used for the year, bless the flaming light that will not be put out. It is the end of Epiphanytide but the beginning of the Word made flesh among us. It is the beginning of Heaven on Earth.
I’m reading a book about a boy who went to Heaven and returned to tell us all about it. Remarkable. Encouraging. For we are made for Heaven, and we all know and feel this deep down. We are made for, meant for, something wonderful, something good. The world pulls us away from this great desire and knowledge, but also tells us it is true – in the sunsets, the quiet at dawn, in the blade of grass covered in glistening dew. The world tells us about Heaven when we search one another’s eyes, when we pet the rich fur of our cat and hear the purr. And we know, as we worship on Sunday week after week, year after year, that there is something greater, something wonderful waiting for us.
So in this time of lengthening, of light, we travel from Incarnation towards death on a cross and joyous Resurrection. We travel into God, into who we are, into Heaven itself.