Monday, February 1, 2010

Presentation of Christ in the Temple

On February 2 the Church celebrates Christ's presentation in the Temple. In the Western Church it goes by the name of Candlemas and was traditionally the day to take Christmas decorations down. But I don't know much about the Western traditions other than that.

In the East, this feast commemorates Jesus' first visit to the temple (Luke 2:22-39) 40 days after his birth. It was custom to offer a lamb for sacrifice or two doves (if one was too poor for a lamb). Joseph and Mary brought to doves (they were poor) and Jesus--the Lamb of God. St. Simeon and St. Anna, both of whom were very old were there to witness Christ's entrance. The former's prayer (Lord now lettest 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; a light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.) is still a staple prayer in the Eastern Church being said at the end of every Vespers and when leaving the Nave.

In our home, we read this story and talk about how special it is to be able to go to church. We also read My Forty Day Blessing Book by Christina Kyriacou which talks about the blessing infants and their mothers receive when they are churched. We look at pictures of my childrens' churchings and talk about how special it is to be welcomed into our church family in this way.
We also bring a special offering to the church-whether it be money or decorations. I always read the kontakion as well as the scripture readings we will hear in church beforehand so that we can talk about their meanings before and after the service.

For a craft I suggest making a lamb and birds out of paper and cotton balls or other decorations. Coloring pictures of the feast's icon is also of value since it allows children to identify this story when they're looking around during church.

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