Talking Point – February 2024

WE CHRISTIANS tell a rather old story on 2 February as we celebrate the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This is the event recorded in St Luke’s gospel when Mary and Joseph fulfil Jewish law by bringing their baby to the Jewish Temple. There, two old people, Simeon and Anna, recognise who this baby is, and their life’s work waiting for the promised Messiah seems complete.
Christians also call this festival Candlemas because, in medieval times, households would bring a year’s supply of candles to the church to have them blessed. In doing so, they would be invited to remember throughout the year that Christ – proclaimed in scripture as the light of the world – would be with them at home. This service became known as the Mass of Candles, or Candlemas.
Telling stories is a vital part of the Christian faith. We read stories in our holy book, the Bible, and we relate them to our own lives. Through telling the stories of our faith we learn about the presence of God in our lives. Christians believe they can meet God by his Holy Spirit in the telling of their stories.
The beginning of February is also National Storytelling Week (27 January – 4 February). We are all invited to tell stories – of fact, of myth and of fiction, from long ago to present day. Stories can have a powerful effect on us. Just think of a recent drama or film you have watched, or a novel you have read. All religions use stories to explain their understanding of God.
February also brings Valentine’s Day which, beyond all the commercialisation, is a day to mark the importance of love in our lives. In my experience, telling the story of our experience of love – for better and for worse – is vital to being alive.
So please do have a story-full and blessed month of February. Maybe light a candle on the second and give thanks for the story of your life.
Rev’d Mike Smith
Rector Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham
Area Dean of Reading

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