Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster will celebrate Candlemas with a Taize service Thursday, February 2, 7 pm in the church sanctuary at 328 W. Orange Street, Lancaster, PA. The sanctuary will be candle lit to provide a contemplative setting for meditative singing and periods of silence typical of Taize services. Musicians from the congregation will provide accompaniment for the singing and times of meditation.

The service will include a time for lighting and blessing candles that participants bring from their homes. This ritual serves as a reminder of sustaining warmth and light in the dark weeks before the dawn of the vernal equinox.

The Taize Community is an ecumenical monastic order in TaizéBurgundyFrance, composed of over 100 Catholic and Protestant brothers from about 30 countries. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work. Taize worship services include music sung in many languages, using simple repeated phrases, usually lines from Psalms or other scriptures.

Candlemas is a celebration marking the halfway point between winter solstice and the vernal equinox – the halfway point between the longest night and the first day of spring. Pre-Christian Midwinter Festival celebrations marked this day long before church, as a turning toward the light of spring, coinciding with the onset of lamb season, and the flowing of new milk once again.

The 5th century Eastern church declared it a Christian feast day, “Hypapante” or “Meeting,” to commemorate Simeon and Anna meeting Jesus in the Temple, for it is the 40th day after Christmas, the day that Mary would have been able to go out in public again after giving birth, and thus the day Jesus was presented in the Temple. The Light was born on Christmas, but was only brought out to the community to bless and be blessed on the 40th day.

Traditional Candlemas services blessed all the candles to be used in the church in the coming year, and a candle from each household was brought forward to be blessed, as well. On this day, we declare the light of God’s glory as manifested in Christ Jesus and consider how we might freshen our approach to life and to wonder. Fire and light have remained a part of celebrating this day.