Have you noticed that when we reach across the space that divides us and light our neighbour’s candle our original light is not lessened. Sharing candlelight is not a zero sum game of winners and losers. So much of what we struggle with—in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, in our world—is a struggle that comes from being afraid that if you gain, I will lose. When Jesus was presented in the temple, the elders said that he would be a light to the people and the nations. Jesus’ message was that if we stopped isolating and hoarding and being frightened of each other, then we would all gain freedom, growth, abundance and the fullness of life. Like our flames, God’s love is not depleted or diminished by sharing it.
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above. Then read the passage of scripture below. Listen and attend to these questions:
- What word or phrase stands out to you or catches your attention?
- What question(s) do you have about the text? What would you like a biblical scholar to clarify for you?
- What is God saying about Jesus?
- What is God saying to us through this passage?
Luke 2:22-40 New Revised Standard Version
22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’ 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ 36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
Listening to God
Invite people to take a few minutes of silence to reflect on the four questions above. They may wish to write down their thoughts, feelings and insights.
Listening to each other
Invite people to partner with one other person they do not know well. Then ask them to take turns sharing their thoughts, feelings and insights while the other person listens but does not speak. Give each person about 2-3 minutes. The one listening may record what is being said to them. Then ask the pairs to join other pairs to form groups of 6-8 people. The person who listened is invited to introduce their partner by sharing their partner’s thoughts, feelings and insights.
Listening to the community
Once everyone in the small group has been introduced, call the large group together and ask if they heard any common themes or reflections. Name the common themes, insights and reflections.
Light a candle
Optional. Distribute a hand-held vigil candle to each person. Light one candle and ask people to share that light with each other, saying, “The Light of Christ.” When everyone’s candle is lit offer the concluding prayer.
Jesus, you are the light of the world and offer that light to all who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Shine in us to the praise and glory of your name and guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.
Extinguish your candle.
End of the meeting
Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Good News has been known in your time together.