When the late Mrs Lil Davies, one of the wonderful stalwarts of the ‘naughty pew’ at the
back of Christ Church, was in her early nineties, a rash young doctor suggested that she
ought to use a Zimmer frame. “Certainly not,” was Lil’s indignant reply. “Those are for old
people.” The remarkable example set by the final year of 100-year-old Captain Sir Tom
Moore, the NHS fund-raiser, was a reminder of just what an inspiration ‘those of riper years’
can sometimes be, and what an astonishing contribution they often make.
This Sunday, as our Family Eucharist, we’re celebrating the Feast of the Presentation,
otherwise known as Candlemas, as we always do on the first Sunday in February. The two
central figures in the story are Simeon and Anna – both of them extremely elderly, and very
faithful in their prayerful attendance in the Temple. They are the only ones who catch a
glimpse of God’s presence in the baby held by his young mother. The worldly-wise
Sadducees and the self-righteous Pharisees must have ignored the young couple and their
child. Such religious high-flyers were far more interested in keeping an eye out for
apparently more impressive and important visitors, who might perhaps have been able to
make a truly substantial contribution to the Temple coffers. Only poor old Simeon and Anna
were able to see who was really important – and they rejoiced in wonder at the Christ-child.
When a diocesan strategy appeared a few years ago, we were told that one of its aims was
to ‘rejuvenate’ the church. I had to stifle a giggle, as the word ’rejuvenate’ made me think of
that age-defying cream that is sold in Boots. However, the aim was a good one: to bring
more children and young people into the church – like those in our Small Church and Sunday
School and their parents, whose presence brings so much joy and liveliness. However, the
danger is that we can be so busy ‘rejuvenating’ that we forget about those at the other end
of the age spectrum, who can often be equally lively and just as much a source of joy.
Looking back over my decades of parish ministry I realise that the most valuable things that
I’ve been taught about Christian faith and discipleship have usually come from the amazing
ordinary extraordinary Simeons and Annas in my congregations (though the gloriously
unvarnished insights of small children have sometimes come a close second).
SERVICES (all on Zoom): Sunday 7 February (CANDLEMAS/FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION
transferred) 9am CANDLEMAS FAMILY EUCHARIST; 5pm EVENING PRAYER; Wednesday 10
February 10.30am HOLY EUCHARIST; Sunday 14 February (QUINQUAGESIMA) 9am HOLY
EUCHARIST; 11yb CYMUN BENDIGAID (darlleniadau t.72); 5pm EVENING PRAYER; Ash Wednesday
17 February 10.30am HOLY EUCHARIST Canon Patrick