‘A light to lighten the Gentiles’ (Luke 2:32)
Last year, on a rare Sunday morning off, I took the opportunity to worship at the Guards’ Chapel near Buckingham Palace. The service was accompanied by a full military band, a professional choir and we enjoyed a superb sermon on the challenges facing the Church of England today.
The Guards’ Chapel itself has faced a lot of challenges, during its history. In June 1944 a flying bomb fell on it, in the middle of the service, sadly killing one hundred and twenty-one people. The building was destroyed with the exception of the east end circular apse. Within the apse the altar and its lit candles remained untouched; a symbol of hope for the future and a small sign of light in a dark situation.
Candlemas, at the start of February, was the date that candles were traditionally brought to church to be blessed for the coming year. The feast remembers how Jesus was taken, as a newly born child, to be presented in the Temple, at Jerusalem. An old priest named Simeon, who had longed to see the coming messiah, took Jesus in his arms to bless Him. As he did so he recognized who He was and was moved to speak the words known, in the Anglican Prayer Book, as the Nunc Dimittis (from the Latin for the opening words).
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;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles,
And to be the glory of thy people Israel.
This prayer is said or sung every day in our evening service. It helps us to celebrate that no matter how dark the challenges of the word are the light of Jesus Christ is there for those who seek it.
Posted By: valerie