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Candlemas Sermon - All Age


All Age Sermon preached Sunday 29 January 2017 by The Reverend Canon Charles Royden

We have some photos today - First Photo Donald Trump

He has said receiving the nuclear codes on inauguration day was a “sobering moment”. The President was given access to the “nuclear football” which contains the codes after taking the Oath of Office and is now able to authorise a nuclear attack at a moment’s notice. The commander-in-chief said it was “scary” to be told about the extent of destruction the nuclear arsenal can unleash. Mr Trump told ABC News in an extensive interview.

“When they explain what it represents and the kind of destruction that you’re talking about, it is a very sobering moment, yes. It’s very, very scary, in a sense,"

However President Trump wants America to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes” !!

Second Photo
The Prince of Wales has told world leaders humanity faces no greater threat than climate change, as he issued a rallying call for them to take immediate action to tackle rising temperatures.

Third Photo
Stephen Hawking warned at an event marking the opening of the Centre for the Future of Intelligence that the successful creation of AI could be the last event in human history

Fourth Photo
Now these guys look really worried who are they ?
Atomic scientists reset their symbolic "Doomsday Clock" to its closest time to midnight in 64 years on Thursday, saying the world was closer to catastrophe due to threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump's election as U.S. president.

The timepiece, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and displayed on its website, is widely viewed as an indicator of the world's vulnerability to disaster. Its hands were moved this week to two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight, from three minutes.
"The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it's ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room," Lawrence Krauss, the bulletin's chair, told a news conference in Washington.

The clock was last set this close to midnight in 1953, marking the start of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thursday's reset was the first since 2015. The hands of the famed “Doomsday Clock” have moved 30 seconds closer to midnight, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed Thursday morning.The clock was introduced by the Chicago-based scientific journal 70 years ago as a graphical means of expressing the existential threat posed to life on Earth. In 1947, the nonprofit organization notes, there was but one technology believed to hold the potential to destroy the planet: nuclear energy and weaponry. Today, Rachel Bronson, the Bulletin’s publisher, noted in a statement released early Wednesday, climate change is an additional central threat, with such factors as artificial intelligence and cyberthreats also emerging on the radar.

Fourth Slide Worst Day of the Year

So, did you know that there an official “worst day of the year?” Well, there is according to some experts at least. It goes back to 2005, when Dr. Cliff Arnall calculated the most depressing day of the year. Based on his calculations (listed below), the worst day of this year, Blue Monday, falls on Monday January 16th, 2017. So how did Dr. Arnall figure out that this date in late January is extremely depressing? Here are his reasons:

  • Christmas has gone back in the box. Trees are back in the loft or off to recycling
  • Post-Christmas debts are due, so our debt is the highest of the whole year
  • In the northern hemisphere, weather conditions are often at their worst (gloomy, cold, and unpredictable)
  • Most people have already abandoned their New Years resolutions and are back to old behaviours

Well we shouldn’t be too depressed about the cold because we are halfway through winter between the equinox, it is Groundghog Day on Feb 2

Nunc Dimittis -- Now Dismiss

But there is more and we turn to our readings today for candlemas and the words of Simeon who wraps up the Old Testament and says that the promised salvation has arrived, the Messiah is here. We can now start looking to the new age. Now for the Jews this is not true, the Jews are still looking for someone else, whilst we as Christians assert that the "Coming One" has come. As Christians we say with Simeon:

"Our eyes have seen His salvation."

So Candlemas is a time of rejoicing that God has kept his promise and given his Messiah for the sake of the world. When we realise this we can understand how the group of Jews who believed in Jesus would have to move out away from the synagogue. The early believers were Jewish people, who had seen the fulfilment of the prophecies in Jesus and so now they were living in a new age inaugurated by the Messiah. Jews who did not acknowledge who Jesus was were left waiting for somebody who had been and gone.

But I want us to think today about Simeon and Anna. These were really old people, a really old lady said to me yesterday in hospital - don’t grow too old Charles it is not nice. Simeon and Anna were people who had rheumatism and arthritis and all the aches and pains that we have, without the medication. These were old people who knew how difficult it was being old. Poor old Anna was also a widow and had been for a long time and a widow was a bad place to be in those days . So they have much to teach us about being old. But they did not fall into the trap of old age, where you look back so fondly to the past thinking everything back then was brilliant and so have nothing good to look forward to.

  • They did not hark back to a bygone golden age.
  • They had kept their positivity

How had they manged to do this. They had kept the faith. They knew that God had made promises and they trusted in those promises even though the circumstances suggested that all was lost. They should have been dead by now, the country was going to the Romans, there was poverty and despair all around them, but they trusted God.

Well there are lessons to be learned today for all of us and especially to anybody who is all fed up and miserable about the future. Do not allow these people to imprison you in their dungeons of despair.

Neither Simeon or Anna were moaners. We are told that the Holy Spirit rested on Simeon. The Holy Spirit leads us into the future with hope, because the future is God's. The challenge for each of us is to put our trust in God in the same complete way that Simeon and Anna did.

  • We must like Simeon have the faith to recognise God at work in his world. have the faith to trust that God has a plan for his world
  • We must like Anna be able to look to the dawning of a new age.

We do not know what lies around the corner. However we do know that God has not abandoned us in the dark. The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear.

Candlemas is a time of rejoicing that God has kept his promise and given his Messiah for the sake of the world. Candlemas has been described as one foot in Christmas and one foot in Easter, it is a watershed when we look back at the birth of Jesus and we look forward to the cross of Easter. Candlemas reminds us that Christmas is not an event for one day, but an invitation to a new life.