This feast of Candlemas was instituted to supplant the pagan Lupercalia, which observed licentious behavior and torchlight parades. This is also why the clergy for the blessing and processional wear purple vestments, the color of penitence, as a testimony against the sinful revelry of this pagan feast. Afterward, during the Introit, the clergy put on white vestments.
The candles that are distributed to the laity are to be kept by them, so that they may light them on the anniversary date of their baptism. These candles signify our Heavenly adoption as sons of God. Year after year we again receive a baptismal candle so that "with burning lamp" we may hasten to meet our Bridegroom when He comes for the eternal wedding feast.
The candles are re-lit just before the Gospel until just before the Creed. And again from just before the Sanctus to the end of Communion. They are lit at this time, as a remembrance that the Light of Christ permeates the darkness of our souls by His holy Word. Candles should really be held by the worshippers every service for this reason, however, acolytes perform this task for them during the rest of the year. But on this festival, when the Light of Christ is at its peak, everyone gets to hold this light in their hands, as a testimony of the One True Light which dwells in us, and shines through us.
"Herr Gott, schleuss den Himmel auf"
Setting by JS Bach
BWV 616 and BWV 617 from Orgelbüchlein
Deacon Dulas is ordained into the pastorate and member of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (eldona.org). In his own words, "My call is to serve as deacon and missionary-at-large to MN and WI at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Tony, WI. We are starting a mission here in Mayer, MN, and the surrounding area called St. Matthew Ev. Luth. Mission."
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