Friday, 30 January 2009

An image for Candlemas

light of the world

Sanctuary lamp in the Chapel, St Oswald's Pastoral Centre

christening bible

The candle burns in the darkness of the chapel as a reminder of the presence of Christ, the light of the world. So quite appropriately this weekend we celebrate Candlemas. We remember the presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the words of Simeon  "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

I became a Christian because of the words written in biro in this small bible by my Great Uncle Tom, a man I never met or spoke with. It was his gift to me on the occasion of my Christening in 1959. I don't know why he chose to do this, or indeed what led him to want to offer me the reference to St. John's gospel, chapter 8 and verse 12. All I know is that I am profoundly grateful that he did. And I regret that I cannot tell him so.

As a child, when times were tough, I would often pick up this Bible and turn to the page in it you see below, and read the verse Great Uncle Tom gifted to me. In the darkness of what we were living through as a family, with my Dad suffering with schizophrenia, alcoholism and life-threatening asthma,  these words were a great comfort and I knew that this was what I longed for, but didn't know how to get. Light and darkness needed no explanation. I think their meaning is instinctive and deeply felt.

Years later, as an undergraduate student in Birmingham, I first set foot in a Methodist Church and decided to give faith a go. I was looking for the piece of the jigsaw that was missing in my life. At that moment the meaning of Simeon's words, Jesus's promise in John 8:12 and my Great Uncle Tom's gift came together in my soul. The candle of faith has burned ever since. My trust in God goes right back to a man I never met, who out of all the verses in the Bible he could have chosen, wanted to offer me these words:

Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Those who follow me will not walk in darkness. They will have the light of life.

I took the first step to follow, and am following still, because his promise is real and true.

john 8v12


  1. thanks for this david . The out of timeness of the Gospel never ceases to amaze. This has left me very emotional after a few days of seeing peoples lives with little light in them . may we all be reflectors.

  2. Great post Dave... which I pinched for my 'faith' postings.

    BTW turns out my mother and father in law know you (small world... or you are seriously infamous!) They live in Hessle and are members of Derringham Bank ... Donald and Jill Granger.

  3. wow... I have nothing more to say :-)

  4. Bless you Richard, and thankyou. And many thanks Danny for using my post on your excellent blog. And yes it is a very small world! Please do send Gill and Don our very best wishes, we have fond memories of them. And Sally, bless you too for commenting; your blog is a constant source of grace and insight.