Six weeks after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph head to the temple to offer two pigeons or turtle doves to complete Mary’s purification after childbirth. They also use this time to dedicate Jesus – their firstborn son – to God. This is the scene that is depicted in the stained-glass window to my left.
Many of us still bring things that are really important to us before God to ask God’s blessing; ike our children; our life partners; our hopes and our dreams.
In the spirit of this tradition, we bring before God this morning our hopes and dreams and our spiritual intentions for the new year. As a symbol of those intentions, you are invited to light a candle. You may want to light it from one of the Advent candles: candles of hope, peace, joy and love. Or you may want to light it from the Christ candle. The choice is yours.
Spiritual intentions are more than New Year’s resolutions. They are offerings to God from our heart and soul, asking for God’s blessing. If you wish, you may also come to the altar rail to ask God’s blessing on things like your relationship or your plans for the New Year. And there are oils there for anointing for those who wish it.
Its also important that we begin with our prayers and intentions for St. Paul’s as we go into this new year. Asking for wisdom and openness as we continue to discern where God is leading this community; asking God’s blessing on the wardens as they begin the process of seeking a new priest; praying for open hearts to embrace and support the priest who God raises up and anoints for the next part of the journey; and for the will to boldly and faithfully embrace the future to which God is calling this church and diocese
Corrie ten Boom said, Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. That’s what we are about today.
Jesus, Light of the world,
When we are afraid and unsure,
Comfort us with the light of your presence.
When loneliness chills us,
Warm us with the light of your love.
When the road ahead seems dark,
Guide us with the light of your way.
When we don’t understand, and our thoughts are unclear, fill us with the light of your wisdom.
When we seem spent like a candle consumed,
Replenish us with the light of your life.
Then, so filled with your light, use us,
So that we, with you, may be light for the world. –Fr. Wally Hycla