Christmas is a season, not merely a night and a day. We keep Christmas for twelve days concluding on January 6, Epiphany. Epiphany was anciently and is into the present a high festival in the eastern churches. It was kept as a central baptismal day, especially where, early in the Eastern tradition, the baptism of Christ was seen as the proclamation of Christ’s adoption as the Son of God.
Over the centuries January 6, as Three Kings day, became the primary domestic Christian celebration in the churches of southern Europe and then in the Caribbean, observed with processions, pageants, and gift-giving.
Epiphany usually falls on a weekday and this has led some churches to transfer the celebration to an adjacent Sunday. Although, Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries has had the celebration of Epiphany on January 6 as a joint service regardless of the day it occurred. We see Epiphany as the single date concluding the Christmas season.
“The gospel for Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the whole world as symbolized locally by King Herod, geographically by the visiting magi, and cosmically by the star. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh suggest not necessarily three visitors but the recognition of the infant as a king who, worshiped as divine, will be buried in a tomb. The first reading, from Isaiah 60, calls the people of God to rejoice at the light of God shattering the darkness of the world. According to the worldview of the poet, all people, even famous foreign kings, arrive to praise the light. It is an example of the influence of the Old Testament on the New that the kings of Isaiah 60:3 have, in Christians’ minds, been superimposed upon the astrologers of whom Matthew writes. The reading from Ephesians is a magnificent passage that speaks of the mystery of the revelation of God in Christ. Epiphany calls us to join the magi as they see the surprising manifestation of the glory of God in the child Jesus.” Keeping Time – Evangelical Lutheran worship
AND, as uncomfortable as this may seem to you, Epiphany is an appropriate day for the children’s Christmas pageant. Scheduling it at this time can help us transfer things of Christmas from Advent to the twelve days of Christmas. We can symbolize the Wise Men by bringing gifts of foodstuffs that are designated for a local food pantry that we bring in with the procession of bread and wine, to symbolize the gifts we now bring to the Christ child. Epiphany is also an appropriate time to schedule baptisms. As the magi brought their gifts to Christ, so we bring one another to a new life of baptism.
At our joint service for Epiphany, we have given out chalk and taught you how to do a house blessing. You use chalk to mark the doorframe of your home with the year and the letters C, M, B. The letters stand for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, the names traditionally given to the magi, and also for the Latin phrase Christe mansionem benedict, which translates “Christ, bless this house”. So, the inscription on the doorframe would look like this:
20 + CMB + 15
The year “2015” is separated by the “CMB”. You may use this prayer: “O God, watch over (family names) in all our going out and our coming in; keep all evil away from our door; and let us share the hospitality of this home with all who visit, that those who enter here may know your love and peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen”
Now you know all about Epiphany and the traditions and suggestions. Have fun with this and a blessed Christmas and Epiphany to you.
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773