Lay Reader, February 2000
It is just eleven years now since the Kegworth air disaster in 1989, an occasion which most would rather forget but one which inevitably lingers on in the memory of those who were in various ways involved. At the time I was working at the Queen's Medical Centre and part of the team which fronted the hospital's response to the disaster. It was a traumatic time, but one of the brighter moments came a few days later when I was among the group of staff to be presented to His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, during his visit to the area's emergency services in recognition of their efforts in dealing with the incident. It was tremendously moving to hear the accounts which others gave to the Prince of their involvement and experience. There were so many who made a valuable contribution that evening in January 1989 and the days which followed; it would have been fitting for all of those people to have been presented to Prince Charles but sadly only a handful were chosen, though there was an awareness that those who were presented truly represented the many who were absent.
Presentation is the thought for February, because of course the Church's calendar features the feast of the 'Presentation' or as it is more commonly called, 'Candlemas', on February 2nd, a significant feast because it signals the end of Christmas-time and directs our thoughts on towards our Lenten pilgrimage to follow. The scriptural focus for Candlemas can be found in St Luke chapter 2, where we read of the parents of Jesus taking him to the Temple, where in accordance with the Law, as in Leviticus chapter 12, the child would be presented to God, sacrifices made in thanksgiving for a safe delivery and his mother declared clean from her ritual uncleanness. But the unexpected happens, in that Jesus is recognised by Simeon and Anna as no ordinary child, but rather the 'Light for revelation and… the glory of Israel' - yet another 'epiphany' event among the many to follow!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship sees this event as a development of the incarnation - that plain fact that God had become human. He said:
As we celebrate Candlemas then, we should be aware that as Jesus was presented to God in the Temple, he was in effect presenting each one of us to God, and as Simeon recognised light and glory in that small child, so God recognises the potential of light and glory in each individual child of his. Our responsibility as the children of God is to allow that potential to be released in our lives and allow it to permeate the world we live in, that His light and glory might be experienced by all and that all that is earthly might become heavenly.
As the Christian people we know this to be our responsibility, but it is appropriate to remind ourselves of this especially at the beginning of the third millennium and too as we look forward to a new stage in our corporate journey as the Christian people under the guidance of our new Rector, Andrew Deuchar. So may God give us light and glory and may we be generous in sharing it.