February whilst still a cold month is when we notice the winter is beginning to end. Lent usually begins in February although this year its 1st March as Easter is late. Lent is an old English word meaning ‘Spring’ and is where we get our word ‘lengthen’ from as the days begin to grow gradually longer and we don’t get up in the dark so much or find its already dark when we get home for tea! As a boy chorister I learnt the lovely ‘January carol’ from the Oxford Book of Carols headed ‘suitable for January & February’:
‘Though the cold grows stronger, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
Though the world loves night;
Yet the days grow longer, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
Christ is born our Light!’
So hope is ahead! February also contains ‘Candlemas’ – 40 days after Christmas falling on 2nd February when Jesus is proclaimed by the aged Simeon in the temple at Jerusalem as ‘The Light to lighten the nations and the glory of God’s people Israel’. We live in a dark world in dark times and Jesus tells us that people like the dark because it covers their evil deeds, so perhaps this has always been so. But February reminds us that the light is stronger than the darkness.
So as we enter the season of Lent – 40 days remembering the days that Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His earthly ministry – we turn from the celebration of Christmas – our great Festival of Light as Jesus the Light of the world comes into our darkness, and we face instead to Easter at the end of Lent, Passiontide and Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. For the light of Easter is actually stronger than the light we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus came as a light into our dark world but Easter shows how we can enter the eternal Kingdom of Heaven of everlasting Light.
That is a hope before us. Winter is almost past. Spring/Lent is on the way. Hope that Jesus offers us is a sure hope always before us.
Great Chart Rectory