For Candlemas, or, the Presentation of Christ in the temple (2 February)
by Manon Ceridwen James
Suitable for Key Stage 1/2
To explore our uniqueness.
Preparation and materials
- Note: This assembly can be adapted to use for any other festivals in which candles or the theme of light feature, such as Christingle. It also relates to the SEAL theme: Good to be me.
- Collect all kinds of different candles – the more varieties of candles the better – and have some matches or other means of lighting them. If you don’t have many candles, supplement them with different forms of lighting, such as torches, lamps and so on.
- Tell the children about your candle (or candle and light) collection. You may like to ask for volunteers to help hold the (unlit) candles (or lights). As you bring them all out, explain why they are important to you or why you like them. For example, one candle might smell nice, another might have been a gift from a friend or another candle might have been given to you to mark a special occasion, such as a baptism or wedding.
- Engage the children in discussion about the candles (or lights) – find out which ones they like from your collection and why.
- Explain that Jesus spoke a lot about light. He was the light of the world and we, in turn, are meant to show this light in the world in the things we do and the kind of people we are.
- Explore with the children the idea of light. How does light make us feel? Light a candle (or turn on a soft light) at this point to help the children with their reflections. In the dark, we can feel a bit scared, but, in the light, we can feel warm and safe.
- When Jesus said he wanted us to shine our lights in the world, he didn’t mean he wanted us to go around switching on lights or lighting candles! It was his way of explaining how he wanted us to make other people feel. He wants us to be kind and helpful, friendly and caring.
- Refer back to your own candles (or lights) – they were all different, but all of them were special. We are all very different people, too – we have different things we are good at, we look different and all have our own different ways – but Christians believe God loves us all, whoever we are, whatever we are like.
- So, these candles (or lights) remind us that we can shine God’s light in the world in all our own different, unique ways.
- Explain that, on 2 February, there is a special festival called Candlemas, or, the Presentation of Christ in the temple.
It celebrates when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to pray and dedicate him to God. They meet two elderly people there – Simeon and Anna – who were very excited because they had waited all their lives to see Jesus.
Simeon was so happy that he said a special poem when he held Jesus in his arms, a poem we still hear in Church today. This poem talks about how Jesus is going to become the light of the world.
Time for reflection
Darken the room or hall and light all the different candles in turn or turn on the torches, lamps and so on.
Encourage the children to think about their own unique abilities and talents, what makes them special or different, and thank God for them.
‘Christ be our light’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 452, 2008 edition)