Over the past few years our Centre has held a very successful Christmas event for schools. At our “review of the year” meeting, we felt that although we have previously done some amazing Christmas events, especially a “Jesse- Tree” event and our “You-cube” story box festival; we didn’t want to run an event for Christmas unless it added value to what the schools were already doing.
So we took the radical step of deciding not to have a Christmas event but instead to celebrate the less well known festival of Candlemas. We used the story of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the welcome Jesus and his parents received from two older people, Simeon and Anna, to think about the gifts we each have. We recalled how Simeon recognised Jesus as the light of the world and we reflected upon themes of darkness and light.
On February 2nd 300 children came to a service at St Giles’ Church in Wrexham from 9 local schools. We had previously delivered modelling clay to the schools and an information pack telling the story of Jesus’ presentation and offering assembly resources. We encouraged the children to make a decorated candle holder, illustrating something about their gifts.
The work that the children did was wonderfully imaginative. Some of them also dressed up to tell the story and many took part in the service in various ways. We gave each child a candle (LED) to hold, we had a (rather chaotic procession!) and we had songs, prayers and readings about darkness and light.
Our project became truly inter-generational thanks to the imagination of the flower arrangers (and growers) at church. They wanted to welcome the children and to contribute to the theme, which they did with some beautiful arrangements incorporating candles.
Not only did we manage to explore a lesser known Christian festival, but we also did some great work on naming and celebrating gifts and hopes. It was lovely to do this after Christmas during the quieter and darker weeks of term.
We are grateful to everyone who took part, and all who helped in any way.
If you want to know more about this or any of our other work then please contact the St Giles’ Centre for Religious Education and Faith Development at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Stallard and Libby Jones.