Posts Tagged ‘Richard Littledale’


I think I had heard of Candlemas… vaguely, but would have been pushed to explain or describe it as part of the Christian calendar… until I was prompted by this post Thoughts at Candlemas from Richard Littledale about ten days ago. It encouraged me to do some Googling.

I learned that Simeon’s meeting and recognition of the Christ child in the Temple at Jerusalem was part of Candlemas – for me the best part.

Richard’s blog went on to quote this segment of a narrative sermon he wrote on Simeon’s encounter with Christ some years ago. I enjoyed the story and with Richard’s permission, share it with you now.

As you read, reflect on Simeon’s unique joy in meeting Jesus – unique, yes, for him but available to all of us. And what an encouragement, if a little embarrassing, to Mary and Joseph, confirming the angel’s words to them both.

Sometimes he wore it like a crown on his head – badge of office, attracting envy and admiration wherever he went. Other times, it was more like a heavy scarf – cumbersome, but reassuring about his old neck. Other times still, it was like a restless caged bird – fluttering and battering itself on the paper-thin walls of his heart. But it was always there. They lived together, these two.

Every day, the two of them would make their way to the temple. In days gone by, he had gone with head held high to play his part. Nowadays there were younger, leaner men to take his place, and he preferred to watch. As many blazing summers had come and gone, so he had grown to know this place like the lines on his leathery hand. He knew every cracked flagstone and every scarred brick. He knew where the shadows fell on their daily march around the courtyards. He knew where the poorest would gather to watch without being seen. And where the rich would strut, preening their robes like peacocks for all to see. He knew where the smells of the bazaar would tumble over the temple walls like uninvited guests. And where the waft of incense would tug the soul to higher things.

These days he liked to sit, rather than walk, in this hallowed place, and nurse the word in his heart. It had grown stronger of late, like a bell on a buoy at sea, clanging insistent in the distance. Today it was almost deafening. He could hardly hear a thing above its din by the time they arrived. Their eyes were furtive, this young couple, darting everywhere and clutching the baby’s helpless bundle tight, as if the whole world depended on it. Feeling his very head would burst with the noise, he took the child from them and shouted above the clanging word: “This is the child”.

And then, in harmony now with the bell’s note, he spoke of promises fulfilled and eyes opened, of light shed from heaven and a sword to pierce the heart of the young woman who stood before him. Smiling at her, the light dancing in his watery eyes, he returned the child.

It was over now, the waiting done. Simeon returned to the house of his birth. Returned to the arms of his Maker. And the word, set free from his heart, flew to other hearts and made its home.

These are the kinds of feelings and responses that people have when introduced to Jesus through God’s Word in their heart language for the first time. That’s why I love being part of what Wycliffe Bible Translators does!

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