Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: By Francis Wood

Light the LIGHTS!

It's hard to imagine a solemn occasion in church without candles. At the time of the death of Princess Diana and when Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were killed at Soham in Cambridgeshire, mourners found that a lighted candle helped them to share their grief. A candle speaks volumes where words fail.

Yet, little over a hundred years ago, a bishop caused an uproar in the Church of England by lighting candles on an altar. The Evangelical Church Association took Bishop Edward of Lincoln to court, where the Archbishop of Canterbury ruled in his favour.

So Monday sees Candlemas, a day for lighting candles to mark the day when the infant Jesus was taken to be presented at the Temple in Jerusalem. There he was greeted by the old couple Simeon and Anna and recognised as the Light of the World. We still have the words of old Simeon in our worship in the words of the Nunc Dimittis.

It's good to see that candles are now well-established in the Church. The simple flame brings hope in despair, brings lost friends together and provides a token of love at a time of darkness.

There's an old weather prophesy for the season too:

If the sun shines on Candlemas Day

The worst of the winter is still on the way.

Remember that when you open the curtains on Monday morning.

Candles are not always what they seem, either. I once served in a church where we had a pair of candles 4ft high. They were beautifully white and you stood on a beer crate to light each wick. Few people knew that the main "candle" was a white metal tube and only the top three inches were of wax. This mini candle was held in place with a spring. Imagine the excitement on the day when, half way through the sermon, the mechanism failed and a ball of fire shot across the sanctuary, making a graceful landing in a flower vase. …

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