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LIGHTEN OUR DARKNESS

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION FOR TODAY.



Today we remember when Jesus was

presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph.


Outwardly he was fulfilling the Law, but in reality

he was coming to meet his believing people.

Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Simeon and Anna

came to the Temple. Enlightened by the same Spirit,

they recognised the Lord and confessed him with exultation.

O God, source and origin of all light, who on this day showed to the just man, Simeon, the light for revelation to the Gentiles, we humbly ask that, in answer to your peoples prayers, you may be pleased to sanctify with your blessing ✠ these candles, which we are eager to carry in your name, so that treading the path of virtue, we may reach that light which never fails, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


If you are able - light a candle, to symbolise the Light of Christ presented to you.



Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace :

according to thy word.

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation :

which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.

To be a light to lighten the Gentiles :

and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost :

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end. Amen.


✠ In the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Christ the light of the world has come to dispel the darkness of our hearts.

In his light let us examine ourselves and confess our sins.


I confess to almighty God

that I have greatly sinned,

in my thoughts and in my words,

in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,

through my fault, through my fault,

through my most grievous fault;

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,

all the Angels and Saints,

to pray for me to the Lord our God.


May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins,

and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


THE COLLECT: Let us pray.


Almighty ever-living God, we humbly implore your majesty

that, just as your Only Begotten Son was presented

on this day in the Temple in the substance of our flesh,

so, by your grace, we may be presented to you with minds made pure.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever. Amen.



RESPONSORIAL PSALM 23 (24)


Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord.


O gates, lift high your heads;

grow higher, ancient doors.

Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord.


Who is the king of glory?

The Lord, the mighty, the valiant,

the Lord, the valiant in war.

Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord.


O gates, lift high your heads;

grow higher, ancient doors.

Let him enter, king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord.


Who is the king of glory?

He, the Lord of armies,

he is the king of glory.

Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord.


THE GOSPEL A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke. (Luke 2:22-40)

Glory to you, O Lord.


When the day came for them to be purified

as laid down by the Law of Moses,

the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,

observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord:

Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord

and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said

in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.


Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon.

He was an upright and devout man;

he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death

until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord.

Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple

and when the parents brought in the child Jesus

to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms

and blessed God; and he said:


‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised;

because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the nations to see,

a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’




As the child’s father and mother stood there

wondering at the things that were being said about him,

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,

‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many

in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected;

and a sword will pierce your own soul too;

so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’


There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel,

of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years.

Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years

before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old

and never left the Temple, serving God night and day

with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment

and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child

to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.


When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required,

they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

Meanwhile the child grew to maturity,

and he was filled with wisdom;

and God’s favour was with him.


The Gospel of the Lord.



THE HOMILY


Last night Jan and I attended Evensong at Winchester Cathedral.

We wanted to be there, but with mixed feelings.

The service was quite unlike others.

It was entitled “Choral Evensong –

marking the retirement of The Bishop of Winchester.”


Usually when Bishops or Parish Priests retire

there’s a sense of joyful sadness……

Joy for what has been, and sadness in losing one

whose ministry has touched many for good reason;

Neither was the case last night –

rather we were all on stage, Bishop and people,

as players in the tragedy that is the Diocese of Winchester.


The service itself was beautiful –

it was simply Choral Evensong, with Canticles and Psalms

sung exceptionally well.


Professor Liz Stuart had been asked to preach,

which she did with clarity and powerfully.

Taking Candlemas as a base from which to begin,

she stated “Light and darkness exist side by side in everything we do”

"Tonight our bishop lays down his pastoral staff on the altar,

and begins his retirement.

We cannot avoid the fact that darkness surrounds this moment,

and we must face that darkness square on....

but it would be wrong to close our eyes

to the light that has shone through a long and varied ministry.

Bishop Tim lays down his episcopal ministry

in the Diocese of Winchester tonight,

in all its darkness and in all its light, and leaves it before the Lord."


After the final hymn,

Bishop Tim laid his Pastoral Staff on the High Altar,

and, a lone figure kneeling there, started to pray.

The initial prayers were prayed with a steady voice,,

but when it came to his final prayer of choice,

“The Covenant Prayer” by John Wesley, unsurprisingly

the words brought him to tears, and was harrowing to hear…….


I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,

exalted for you, or brought low for you;

let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing:

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant now made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.


It’s a prayer similar to that of St Charles de Foucauld.

May these words be not only for him,

but also for the Diocese of Winchester.

This episcopacy has ended in tragedy.

Aware of the pains and hurts on all sides,

we long for a hope-shaped future.


The episode in Luke’s gospel we heard this morning

Presents to us The One who is the hope for all people,

Wrapped in human form, and lying in Simeon’s arms.

Anna too is holds that hope openly to us;

She was a woman who knew tragedy and shattered dreams,

and in Anna we glimpse something of the grief

which Mary is yet to experience,

“the sword which will pierce her own heart too”.


The Diocese of Winchester has found itself in a place of darkness,

as indeed has Bishop Tim, Bishop David, and others.

This is now the time for us all

to ponder and treasure the light of Christ

which will never be overcome.


May this time be one in which we treasure

and ponder God’s promises and blessings

so that we might live in the present and the future

in the light and hope of Jesus Christ.



PRAYERS


For the Church: that we may be a community that continues Christ’s mission of reconciliation amongst those who are estranged. For the grace of “tough love”: that we may speak the truth lovingly and honestly to those who are injuring themselves or others, and be willing to hear the truth spoken to us.


For the gift of listening: that the Spirit will open our minds and hearts to hear what others say and to be attentive to the word of God spoken deep within our hearts


For reconciliation amongst nations: that God will guide world leaders to speak the truth to one another and find ways to resolve differences through dialogue. For the healing of racial injustice: that Christians may work to restore relationships in communities, promote the dignity of each individual, and advocate for the truth about the consequences of structures and policies.


For Christian Unity: that all who follow Christ may form a bond of dedication as we work to bring hope and healing to the world.

For those who experience injustice in their workplace: that God will free them from abuse, end de-humanising practices, and help them unveil the unjust activities.


For teachers and educational leaders: that God will give them wisdom and insight in providing safe and productive environments for students and staff.


For greater care for the earth: that God will help us to respect and be responsible stewards of the creation that God has entrusted to our care

For an end to the coronavirus pandemic: that the Spirit will bring healing to those who are ill, protection for those who are vulnerable.


We ask Mary to pray with us, as we with her

bring our care and concern for the situation

in which we find ourselves


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,

blessed art thou among women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.


Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now,

and at the hour of our death.



Our Lady of Palestine


THE PRAYER OF SURRENDER


Father, I abandon myself into your hands;

do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you:

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,

and in all your creatures—

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,

to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,

and with boundless confidence,

for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld.




At the Saviour’s command

and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say:


Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.


For the kingdom, the power

and the glory are yours

now and for ever.


Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles:

Peace I leave you, my peace I give you,

look not on our sins,

but on the faith of your Church,

and graciously grant her peace and unity

in accordance with your will.

Who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.


SPIRITUAL COMMUNION


Pause for a time of quiet reflection,

and then make the following affirmation:


“My Jesus, I believe that You are present

in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.

I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart …

I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You,”



THE BLESSING

Christ, whose glory fills the skies, fill us with radiance

and scatter the darkness from our path. Amen


Christ, the Sun of Righteousness,

gladden our eyes and warm our hearts. Amen


Christ, the Dayspring from on high,

draw near to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen


And may the blessing of Almighty God,

the Father, the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit

come down on us and remain with us for ever. Amen.


THE ANGELUS


The angel of the Lord brought tidings unto Mary. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now,

and at the hour of our death.


Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now,

and at the hour of our death.

And the Word was made flesh. And dwelt amongst us.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now,

and at the hour of our death.


Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts,

that as we have known the Incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his Cross and Passion

we may be brought unto the glory of his Resurrection;

through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Our Lady of Jerusalem

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God!


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