Prime Time in Surrey
Updated: Feb 18
One of our network members in Surrey, Penny Naylor, has faithfully written an email each week to her Prime Time club members since lockdowns began, keeping them linked in to what's happening in their church and local area.
Penny may have made a rod for her own back! She says: 'It’s proving really popular though, so I think I’m going to have to find a way to keep it going even when we get to the point of being able to gather face to face again!'
In response to some resources we sent our network on the subject of celebrating Candlemas, Penny, Prime Time coordinator, based at Busbridge and Hambledon Church, wrote this to her thriving group who are mainly in their retirement years:
Dear Prime Time member
Well, here we are now in February. How was January for you? On Monday morning as I ate my breakfast, I was listening to the radio as the presenters were celebrating that what they referred to as ‘the longest month on record’ was now over. Personally, I found that January seemed to go by pretty quickly, thankfully much like every other month has since we first went into lock down. I know I have work to keep me busy and give structure to my day, but the time really does seem to fly past for me. I can barely believe another week has gone by already and that somehow we’re at Friday.
I know the weather is set to turn cold again at the weekend and into next week, but I’ve been encouraged this week by a few signs of spring. I was particularly excited at the weekend to find some bulbs shooting up their first green leaves in a pot beside our front door. I’m particularly excited about this, because I had only planted them 2 ½ weeks before! I know that you’re going to tell me that I shouldn’t be planting spring flowering bulbs in January, but having dug them out of the ground in early summer last year during lockdown number one when we were giving our garden a bit of a makeover, they have laid in a box in the garage ever since. I had intended to replant them in the autumn, but every weekend during bulb planting season seemed to be wet and the job never got done. Having been in the garage over the Christmas period, I noticed that these bulbs were beginning to shoot, so I thought, ‘Well, I can try planting them and if they don’t survive, they don’t – but they definitely will not survive staying here!’ So in about the second week of January, out I went to do some planting – I don’t think I’ve ever gardened in January before; I normally consider it too cold for me to venture out into the garden until at least May! But I got all these bulbs planted, hundreds of them – some little bigger than a pin head and I just hoped for the best. Never did I imagine that I would see shoots poking up in less than three weeks! Whether or not my appalling bulb husbandry will be rewarded later with flowers, remains to be seen – I may of course get nothing but leaves (and that would be what I totally deserve!), but we shall see… I’ll keep you updated as to what develops!
Just yesterday I noticed some splashes of yellow and purple in the front lawn – the crocuses there are in flower. They are always the first in our garden to show colour. They are right outside our kitchen window and I see them every time I stand at the sink – so I see them quite a lot! Their joyful colours always make me smile. And for a couple of weeks now we’ve had snowdrops flowering in the front bank. They weren’t even spoilt by the snow we had recently. The weight of the snow completely flattened them, but once the snow melted – up they stood again. Did you know that snowdrops are also known as ‘Candlemas bells’? I didn’t until very recently when I was reading an article about Candlemas. Candlemas is a Christian holiday celebrated annually on 2 February. Many Christians believe that Jesus’ mother Mary presented him to God at the temple in Jerusalem after observing the traditional 40-day period of purification of mothers following his birth, and 2 February is forty days after Christmas Day. (Proof if it were needed that indeed time is passing quickly – does it really feel like 40 days since we celebrated Christmas?)
When Joseph and Mary bring baby Jesus to the temple, they are greeted by Simeon, a man of Jerusalem described as ‘righteous and devout’. At the temple at the same time was an elderly widow, Anna: the New Testament’s only prophetess. Simeon embraces the baby and instantly and independently recognises Jesus as Messiah. Anna begins to preach: ‘She… began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem’ (Luke 2:38). Simeon and Anna saw embodied in the six-week-old baby Jesus the culmination of all their hopes and longings. Simeon and Anna both had a very close relationship with God and were led by the Holy Spirit. Imagine the joy these two elderly people must have felt when they beheld the infant Jesus. Their whole lives had been leading towards this moment – Simeon felt a total sense of peace. They were among the earliest people to bear witness to Jesus. One commentary on this Bible passage notes, ‘The story of Simeon and Anna is a great encouragement as we grow older – it’s one of the few occasions in the Bible when older people get the best lines!’
Simeon, in his wisdom, recognised Jesus as the Messiah who would be the light of the whole world, when he said: ‘For my eyes have seen your salvation… a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel’ (Luke 2:31–32). In other words, for everyone. Jesus came as a light in the darkness, just as the snowdrops are bright and white in the dark soil. Many Christians see the snowdrop as a symbol of Jesus Christ being this hope for the world, and whatever your beliefs, for everyone snowdrops are also a symbol of hope that springtime will come.
When you see snowdrops in the coming days and weeks, may they be a symbol of hope for you too. And if you don’t happen to have any in your garden – you don’t have to travel far to see them. At this time of year there is a veritable carpet of snowdrops in the churchyard here at Busbridge Church. When you are out partaking in your allowed daily exercise, why not include the church on your walking route and stop to view them yourself? But if that’s not possible, please do enjoy this photo and may it bring you joy and hope just the same.
I recently had to post a letter to a property with the name ‘Candlemas Barn’. I wonder what the origins of that house name could be and in what way a building could be linked to the Christian holiday of Candlemas? Answers on a postcard please!
And finally – a word of caution… According to folklore, there is a superstition that states that snowdrops should not be brought into the home until after Candlemas. Thankfully, the holiday of Candlemas has passed for this year, so for 2021 we are free to collect up snowdrops from our gardens without worry and enjoy them in vase if we so choose. But do remember these cautionary words should you be overcome with excitement when you see your first snowdrop of 2022 and be tempted to pick it!
Happy snowdrop spotting!
Until next Friday
Penny's previous blogs can be read here:
If, like her, you regularly keep in touch with your local community in similar ways, do get in touch and show us the ways in which you are also keeping people connected.
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