27th January 2022

Dear friends,

This Sunday is our first Benefice service in a year, meeting 10am at St Swithun’s Church. It is also Candlemas, a very special Sunday in the church year when we think about the prophets Simeon and Anna and their encounter with the baby Jesus in the temple. In a world consumed with instant speed, Revd Paul will be helping us reflect on the slow work of God.

This passage about Simeon and Anna (see below) always reminds me of a conversation I once had with the Revd Joanna Colicutt, the Oxford diocese’s adviser for the spiritual care of older people, in which she made me aware that there are actually very few older people in the New Testament – which is why the characters of Simeon and Anna (who are said to be of a ‘great age’) are so special. The stereotype about older people is that they are always talking about the past and guarding old traditions, but in this passage Simeon and Anna are getting excited about the future for the generations to come!

These past two years of living in a pandemic have been very hard on everyone, but it’s perhaps older people who have felt most vulnerable and at risk. And yet I have been constantly amazed by the good grace and positivity of so many of the folks at St Mary’s and St Swithun’s – the ‘Simeons and Annas’ in our midst who have helped keep us all looking forward.

This week I took my first solo funeral – it was deemed that, now 6 months into my curacy training, I was ready for the responsibility. It was for a Mrs Elsie Green who had lived in Kings Worthy for 50 years. She had spent her life working on various farms in Hampshire, chiefly milking cows and looking after the herds, and was known to regularly work 7 days a week! I was struck by the extent to which she had engendered a love of animals and agriculture in her family, with two subsequent generations of farmers following in her footsteps. This is a precious legacy indeed.

And perhaps this act of ‘passing on’ is also what we are doing here in the Worthys as we come together to worship, particularly as we venture beyond our parish boundaries and meet as a benefice. In reminding ourselves that our faith is bigger than our own Christian lives or select communities, we remember we are part of a greater community of the saints and a faith that is a light for all villages, towns and nations. We look forward to welcoming you on Sunday!

Revd Jemima

Luke 2.22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple

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 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), 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.’

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. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 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, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

‘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.’

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 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 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

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, 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. 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.

The Return to Nazareth

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

Revd Jemima Lewis