I know today is the day we watch the groundhog to learn if he sees his shadow, but long before it became known as Groundhog Day, February 2 was (and still is) the Christian celebration of Candlemas.
Like many ancient traditions, there are multiple twists and turns regarding the origins of Candlemas and how it developed over the centuries. Basically, the early church designated February 2—40 days after Christmas—as the observance of the presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:25-35). The lighting of candles was to represent Jesus as a light to the Gentiles, as Simeon so aptly described Him.
Though many Lutheran churches do not observe Candlemas on February 2, the passages from Luke are included in the Gospel readings after Christmas. And the Nunc Dimittis (Song of Simeon) is used as a post-communion canticle in the Lutheran liturgy, a regular reminder that God fulfilled His promise not only to Simeon, but to the whole world.
Though Christ came for all, millions of people still do not know Him. But we all need the light of Christ in our lives. Your participation in Bible translation through Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) brings that light to people in a language they understand. And it is a revelation to them. “Since I have been coming to church, today is the first time I understood the Scripture,” said an elderly Yala woman in Nigeria. She had been attending church for years, but the lessons were always in another language. Hearing John 3:16 in her own Yala language brought clarity.
As always, I urge you to visit lbt.org to see how your prayers and gifts are impacting lives and to learn about ongoing projects.
By the way, there is a connection between Candlemas and Groundhog Day. But that’s a tale for another time…