Take: Jam jar lanterns – one per class - with OHP pictures of Candlemas story stuck to them – the more colourful the better - including the words “Shine as a light in the world.” Battery power tea lights (or real ones).
We are just getting ready in church to mark a special time in the year. It’s called Candlemas, and it’s the very end of Christmas. Christmas probably feels a long way off by now, but we’ve been celebrating it in church, thinking about what it means all through January. If you’ve been in church you’ll see we still have our Crib up (Show photo)
But this weekend we come to the end of Christmas, and we tell a special story to think about that.
It’s a story which happened about six weeks after Jesus was born – we are now about six weeks from Christmas Day. It’s a story about two very old people, called Simeon and Anna. They spent all their time in the Temple in Jerusalem, the place where everyone gathered to pray. But they didn’t just come once a week or once a month, they were there every day. Anna even slept in the Temple. They were waiting. Waiting and waiting. What were they waiting for? They were waiting for God to come and help their people.
They looked around them and saw that people were unhappy. Roman soldiers had marched into their land and they had to do what the soldiers told them to. Often the soldiers were cruel.
Simeon and Anna saw that people often made each other unhappy too. They treated each other badly, as if they didn’t matter, especially people who were ill, or poor. It wasn’t right, and Simeon and Anna did what they could to help people, but they knew that they couldn’t do it on their own. They needed God’s help. People believed that God would send a special helper – they called him the Messiah – but when would he come, and what would he look like.
All day, every day, Simeon and Anna watched and prayed. They looked at all the people who came to the Temple, but none of them was the one.
Then one day, a little family – a man and a woman carrying a baby – came into the Temple. The baby was about six weeks old. It was baby Jesus, with Joseph and Mary. They had come to the Temple to say thank you to God for Jesus. All families did that. And when they came they brought something to offer – two pigeons. Here’s a picture of them. You can see Joseph carrying the pigeons. They felt very small – the Temple was HUGE, and it was crowded. No one would notice them. But someone did. Simeon and Anna. Something told them that this little baby was the one they had been waiting for. They pushed through the crowds towards them.
Simeon took the baby in his arms and said. “This is the one I have been waiting for. Now I can die happy, because I have seen that God is coming to help our people, and people all over the world. He will be like a bright light shining for everyone.” Anna told everyone around that this child would be very special when he grew up, someone would help them to live right.
Mary and Joseph didn’t know what to make of it at all, but they remembered Simeon and Anna and what they had said as Jesus grew up, and thought about it.
Candlemas is a time when we remember Simeon and Anna too. They had to wait and watch, to be patient and keep going, not giving up, so that they could see Jesus. Sometimes we have to do that too. It is easy to give up when things are difficult. But Simeon and Anna trusted that help would come, and that helped them to keep going.
Prayer: give out jam jar lanterns to one representative of each class. As they stand at the front, pray for people who might be feeling helpless, all in the dark, and ask for help to keep going. Let the children take the jam jar lanterns back to their classes.