New Parish Nurse commissioned at Balsham for the “Seven Parishes”

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Congratulations to Teresa Latimier, our newest Parish Nurse in the Diocese of Ely, whom I commissioned this morning at Balsham. That’s her on your right in the first photo above, with Regional PN co-ordinator Claire Gillett and local Priest in Charge Dr Julie Norris – along with a selection of locals past and present. (The new benefice choir was also on parade.)

We celebrated Candlemas together, sending everyone out with a candle to keep lit at home as a sign of our shared commitment to take light and life into our localities, not just through the PN project but through the life and work of each one of us.

I was asked to put my sermons script up, but was speaking from notes, so I hope these help (look below the “fold” to find them):

Candlemas – a personal favourite feast – it’s my birthday!

Here today to celebrate/ commission another sort of birth: the PN project
Must say congratulations: it’s really promising for future
And a special welcome to your first PN Teresa

Has today’s feast anything to say to your new birth?
Candlemas is an nteresting and multi-faceted feast day
Recap in case not looked it up recently

  • Presentation was the practice of redeeming a first-born son instead of sacrificing him (Glad we’ve moved on!), with a money payment of 5 shekels, not mentioned here.
  • Purification of Mary after childbirth, like old English ceremony of churching; 40 days after birth. Dubious theology: sacrifice to remove uncleanness (Glad we’ve moved on!), A lamb, commuted to pair of pigeons for poor – which is what Mary and Joseph do (so we know Jesus comes from a poor family).
  • Candlemas nothing to do with these Jewish traditions but became part of festival in Middle Ages, usually involving a blessing of candles in one place then processed to another where Mass was said. Candles (period of greatest winter need now passed) presented to church for use during year. Hinge point to Lent.

We can use our Easter candle as a visual aid to look for some applications:

  1. Look at candle: unlit it is a lump of deathly wax. Almost corpse-like.
    But it can be presentable to God, and be put to use by him.
    First step in joining in God’s great work of redemption is to be present to him and hear his word of love
    Overcoming sense of our own inadequacy/inability (so many feel it)
    Discovering that in/like Christ we are worth it in God’s sight, and intended to be InHisService, part of his story
    You’ve taken the step!
  2. So far so good (really good!)
    But now needs ignition of Spirit to share the love/light
    Purifying/inspiring us and mobilising/equipping us
    Light candle
    Pray for Teresa today – but not just Teresa
    We are all ministers together
    Fantastic that Keith & Richard leading your new choir today
    What is your voice to add to it?
    What can God light in you to shine with today?
    All have been given candles which we will light at end of service
    Take them home to light in your window:
    A sign of the light and love we are taking together into all your localities.
  3. Could finish there, but 1 more lesson from candle
    Especially appropriate as Candlemas is the hinge > Lent in the church year
    The candle gives itself away as it gives light to others
    At heart of gospel is the deep truth that
    Success is really about self-giving, even losing in wordly terms
    Power is perfected in weakness, because good power comes from God
    The Kingdom of God is not just this world better, but a whole new creation
    Because only that scale of transformation can speak to the depths of our sickness, sorrow and loss
    And only that new life can speak to inevitability of our deaths

You will know that you are on the right road ahead of you as Christians, as church, and as a PN project when you see the footsteps of Christ ahead of you and know his Spirit to be with you, when you know his love for yourself and see yourself sharing that love with others, and when even though the road goes past the foot of the Cross, you glimpse the new life of Easter breaking in for the people of these 7 parishes and beyond.