Snowdrops are already beginning to flower in Stubbings' churchyard and the days are definitely lengthening which must mean that spring is not too far away. We turn our thoughts this month to the Feast of Candlemas (often called the Presentation of Christ) when Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to this routine dedication ceremony in accordance with Jewish law.
It was Simeon and Anna who saw that this child was no ordinary child and gave their testimony to the glory of God. They were not clergy or religious leaders, just two devout old people who found new wonder in the familiar setting of the Temple.
Simeon asked no more from life. He was ready to go, leaving the world in the knowledge that he had seen the way of salvation through this child. Candlemas is a bitter-sweet celebration because of the understanding that salvation could only be achieved through suffering and self-sacrifice.
We hear very little about the infant years of Jesus. We are given a brief glimpse of his boyhood when he was lost and subsequently found in the Temple, but Luke's gospel tells us that 'Jesus grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him.'(Luke 2:40)
Today, Christians bring their children to church for baptism. It is a religious ceremony that marks the beginning of their faith journey. It's a service of dedication to the Christian life which sets us free to become children of light in the world. The service ends with the words 'shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father'.
In a dark world we are the pin-pricks of light shining brightly to attract others to follow Jesus.
Parenthood is a huge responsibility and bringing up children is no easy task. The church community is here to support parents through the provision of safe places for play and learning opportunities. Our weekday toddler groups and family services are helping parents to belong to the church family and at the same time to grow their own faith in an open and enquiring environment.
Young families are an important part of our church and we hope to encourage more families to join us and to take an active part in the running of family activities. We will grow to become a vibrant church if everybody contributes and gives a little time and energy to making sure that we develop our discipleship.
Positive action will be very much on the agenda as we work through our plans for the future of parish life across our three churches.
Please do make sure that you are part of our future and help us to provide what is needed. The clergy team is here to listen to your views and to make sure we keep us all moving forward.
Volunteering has always been a good way of giving something back in order to help others find worthwhile experiences. It brings its own rewards too.
As we move on through the church year there will be plenty of opportunities for you to take an active role, so my prayer is that you will step forward and join in. Every Blessing.