REV ANDY NORRIS: Celebrating light dispersing darkness is a universal gift.

A Candlemas service at St Mary's Church, Alverstoke
A Candlemas service at St Mary's Church, Alverstoke
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The rector of St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke, looks forward to Candlemas

Celebrating light during the darkness of winter is a very ancient tradition enjoyed by people of different faiths and of none.

It’s one of the reasons that Christians sing Christmas carols by candlelight, and that we put lights on our Christmas trees – it reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world.

We continue to remember this after Christmas, as we tell the story of the three wise men who came to worship him, and also the story of Jesus’ dedication in the Temple in Jerusalem when he was 12.

On that occasion, he was called ‘a light to the nations’.

The service in which we celebrate this is called Candlemas, and we’ll be marking it this Sunday.

St Mary’s Church in Alverstoke will be ablaze with candles throughout the day.

It will make it even more beautiful to visit that day – especially for our two celebration services.

First of all, our Christingle Service in St Mary’s will take place 10.45am on Sunday.

It’s the service where families symbolically take an orange (which represents the world), and add four fruits (representing the seasons), a red ribbon (marking Jesus’s death on the cross) and a candle (to symbolise Jesus being the light of the world). It is often very moving.

Then in the evening, we’ll enjoy a classic Candlemas Choral Evensong at 6.30pm with a full choir, anthems and hymns.

Of course, celebrating light dispersing darkness is a universal gift.

For Christians, the season of Lent starting on Ash Wednesday gives an opportunity to reflect upon the person and claims of Jesus in the run up to Easter.

Our Alpha Course in Alverstoke, starting on February 15, offers a very friendly and accessible exploration of the claims of Christianity about Jesus.

We’re starting with a free fish and chip supper and a 20-minute taster film in our parish centre from 7.15pm on Thursday, February 15.

All are welcome, without obligation, to come and see.

Whatever light we seek at the end of the tunnel there’s always a welcome in all the Gosport churches and at St Mary’s Alverstoke for you.

Why not come and light a Christingle with us this Sunday.

St Mary’s Church is in Green Road, Alverstoke, Gosport.

To contact the church call (023) 9258 0551 or go to stmarysalverstoke.org.uk.