Candlemas

Candlemas

This is the outline for celebrating Candlemas that I wrote for our family service. The drama is a shadow play based on the reading Luke 2:22-40. We used a projector and a large white sheet with the children acting behind. Unfortunately the weather was terrible so we couldn’t walk outside, but we led a procession inside our church and it was lovely.

Intro

Today our session is about candlemas and this evening we are celebrating a special occasion in Jesus’ life, which was his first visit to the temple, forty days after his birth.
We are doing things a little different tonight, we will be doing the craft now and then moving into church. 

We need two groups. One to practice a shadow drama to show the story in the church and another to decorate the candle holders.

Give out scene ideas to the acting group

Give out narration to adults 

Go into church 

Confession then drama 

Talk

So we’ve heard the story of Christ’s presentation in the temple, we celebrate candlemas because it is all about light and enlightenment. To help us think about this, we’re going to remind ourselves what it’s like to be left in the dark.

Turn lights off.

It’s tricky walking in the dark, what we really need is a light to illuminate the path.

Light the candles one by one.

Notice how it easier to see in front you now all the candles are lit.

Jesus is described as the light of the world and in today’s story Simeon calls him “a light of revelation” 

Jesus’ light helps us to see clearly and shows us the way forward, freeing us from the darkness.

Jesus throughout his ministry set people free from things that made their lives hard.

Even as a baby, Jesus was bringing hope, peace, and revealing the light of God’s love to those around him.

God’s revelation to us, a glimpse of how awesome his love is for us, is an invitation for us to be friends with him, to start a journey to him, following the light given by his son.

Let’s bring the light of Jesus from inside our church out into the community. Let’s light our candles and walk around the church thinking about those who we want to ask God’s blessing for.

Outside prayer

Heavenly Father,

We ask for your blessing on our candles.

May you bless our local community 

As we spread the light of Candlemas tonight,

In Jesus’ name

Amen 

Inside prayers

Heavenly Father,

Simeon called Jesus a light to bring light to the Gentiles. We pray that the light of love, which shone through the the life of your son, may bring light to every nation.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Anna worshipped faithfully in the temple day by day. We pray that the life of your church may be centred on faithful worship.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Lord Jesus we pray that your light will shine onto those who are shadowed by fear, illness, poverty, and sadness, bring your loving glow to our friends, family, and our neighbours.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer 
Read the prayer sheet with written prayer requests

Collect

Almighty and ever-living God,

clothed in majesty,

whose beloved Son was this day

presented in theTemple,

in substance of our flesh:

grant that we may be presented to you

with pure and clean hearts,

by your son Jesus Christ our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

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Revelation

Revelation has become a word that I can now use in its literal sense. In the past I would say that I’d had a “revelation” or an “epiphany” if I’d found the answer to something I’d had on my mind for a while. 

I remember standing in church on Palm Sunday waving a paper Palm leaf feeling overcome with joy mixed with the feeling that I was very much loved. This revelation of God’s love for me, changed me in many ways. His invitation for me to know him and feel his awesome love was amazing. After that day, I let go of my past mistakes, I left them like a pile of heavy rucksacks at the end of a long journey, lifted up my head, picked up my feet, and quickly trotted behind Jesus down another path. I felt relieved from my burdens, Jesus had set me free, and in doing so made me realise this is the journey, the missing piece of my life I had been searching for.

God has blessed me with further revelations, from showing me where I can serve him, to telling me he is always there when I am feeling lost, to inviting me to his table to share his Holy meal.

I’ve always been captivated by the Eucharist, it is truly a wonderful occasion, I love watching the preparation and the ritual. I love the sound the wafer makes as it breaks, when it happens it is the loudest sound in the church, a reminder of the body of Christ broken for us. I’ve recently had a strong inspiration to assist at the Eucharist a feeling that the Holy Spirit is guiding me there. 

I experienced a surreal moment at the rail of our Parish church a few weeks back, when I was waiting to receive the wine. I’d just crossed myself and the chalice slipped in the Vicar’s hand splashing the wine over him, me, and the rail. I wasn’t prepared for the reaction that I had. I felt a feeling of sheer panic as I tried to mop up the wine from the rail, but for moment more than comfortable my eyes told me the spilt wine was blood. It took a little moment for my logical brain to wake up and tell my conscious self to not panic, that it was just wine.

I was scared. It bothered me for days.

Last week I forgot I’d sent an email to my course tutor about the event to help me process my thoughts, he had only just realised that I’d sent it and asked me about it. The words just fell out of my mouth, “It was a revelation.”
Finally I now understood, the revelation of the wine becoming the blood of Jesus was another invitation from God to know him deeper, and perhaps I will do this from assisting at the Eucharist when I am allowed to at my church.

 

Closer to the cross

“Yes, as the master shall the servant be,

and pierc-ed are the feet that follow me,

but yours are whole.

Can he have followed far – who has no wound? No scar?”  (Amy Carmichael )

I’ve always had a large negative side to me. It hides in the corners, in the shadows waiting for the right time to appear. It shows it’s ugly soul sucking head when I feel the most vulnerable. In the past it would be there kicking me whilst I was down, whispering clenched teeth snarls of hate in my ear. I would lie motionless under the looming presence of darkness. There was no escape to that black hole, rock bottom included drowning in the mud of the well, sometimes my nostrils would be just above the mud, one more slip downwards and all that would be left was darkness.

I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t been back to the shadows, but this time the shadows are different. When I am at my lowest and my eyes are hot with tears, and heart is pierced with sadness, I look up and above me is the cross. Instead of lying down I am on my knees at the foot of the cross, and there I am in Christ’s shadow and for a moment I am close to him. My sorrow and despair, my grief, my shame, my brokenness all leads me to Christ. Rock bottom is not the bottom anymore, he is there hearing my prayer, pulling me up from that dark place to the foot of his suffering, his acknowledgment of understanding me.

Then in his resurrection I am free. I pour out my heart, he listens, he takes my sin, my thoughts, my shame and he gives back to me the gift of grace. I call out for him and I kneel patiently under his cross with all my pain and then I am there at the open tomb sharing his peace.

I have plenty of wounds that are now scars, the healing love of Jesus feeding me spiritually, physically, and mentally. 

I am no longer afraid of the shadows, the light of Jesus now guides my way.

Walking with God, with friends 

God has blessed me with some wonderful friends on my journey. As I follow Jesus, people join me on my path and we walk together, sometimes we keep walking, sometimes they drop off and follow their own paths.

One friendship has been and is a wonderful gift, God brought us together with similar stories, similar concerns, but with a common ground of hearing his call.

I can’t begin to explain the joy that is felt when we share stories of our faith. It reminds me of when Mary visited Elizabeth, and Elizabeth is joyfully filled with the Holy Spirit.

My heart skips with excitement and my skin tingles from head to toe when we discuss how God is working in each of us. Even when we are going about our daily lives, our Heavenly Father still brings us together through experiences that we share apart.

I have been feeling a little scared about the reality of my call to ministry. A shock moment showing the almighty power of God in a visual realisation of Jesus’s sacrifice for all of us, left me shaking at the knees. How can I serve the Lord, I am nothing special. What if I’ve got it all wrong and it’s all in my mind, and why on earth would God want me?????

But here I was, sat in my course, with this written list of my gifts that I had collected from my friends. Was this really me they were talking about? My lovely friend was there, she helped me realise that I do have the gifts that others can see, my fear of serving started to turn into excitement. We stood together at the library for reading inspiration, stumbling over a book that looked deeply into the sacrifice of Jesus, a step closer to understanding how feeling broken brings us closer to Christ, and being closer to Christ is nothing to fear. There were two copies of the same book, God once again bringing us together for learning and support.

This evening I spoke of my calling with excitement and joy for the first time. I didn’t feel scared, I didn’t feel restricted. For the first time my vocalisation of my own admission of following Christ’s call came with a smile on my face and it felt nothing shorter than elation. 

Is God possibly calling me to ordination? Yes I think he is.
Do I want to be ordained? Yes, more than I had ever realised.

 

The baptism of Jesus

Happy new year! It has been such a busy time for me with university deadlines, the children going back to school, and getting back to day to day routines. Leading has been thrust upon me more recently, mostly with my mouth opening and putting myself forward for things without my brain’s permission! However I have enjoyed it thoroughly! God is still prodding me and tapping me on the shoulder with his plan for me, at the moment it seems to be based around communion but that is a another story to tell soon!

Here is the talk I wrote for our family service today about the baptism of Jesus. We had great fun and I think the children learnt something! 

You will need a blue sheet, a paper dove and children helpers.

Today we are talking about the baptism of Jesus.
John the Baptist who lived in the wilderness, surviving on bugs and honey, was making a path for Jesus. 
John declared that the kingdom of heaven was near, by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 
People from all around went out to him. Confessing their sins and they were baptised by him in the River Jordan. 

Set up drama

  • Children hold blue sheet one at each end 
  • Pick John the Baptist
  • Pick Jesus
  • Pick the dove holder
  • Pick a person to say God’s message

Read the reading

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, ‘I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 

Drama 

So let’s see what the baptism of Jesus would look like, are we ready?

When Jesus arrived he waited until all the other people had been baptised first, he then prayed
(Jesus stands with hands in prayer behind the sheet with John)

(John pushes Jesus down under the sheet)

 and as he was baptised the heavens opened, a dove appeared over Jesus
(Child stood on chair with dove)
 

and God spoke
(Child says)
“‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”

Applause and praise the child actors

John had fulfilled the prophecy, that Jesus would come and baptise us with the Holy Spirit.
God showed his love for his son and so in turn for us.
Baptism was the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, and for us, when we are baptised, it is our first calling from Jesus to be part of God’s kingdom, the start of our own ministry.
Jesus lived a human life so God could feel what it was like to be us. Jesus was baptised with water, like the way we are baptised, Jesus is special but we are all special to God.
Jesus is the Son of God. You are also God’s child. God loves you just the way you are. You are loved just because you are you.