by Elizabeth Stewart

Today is a frigid one. The coldest temperatures in a decade make me feel as though the best place to be is under the covers.  It’s perhaps not a day on which even a hardy Canadian feels much like rising, let alone, shining!  Brrrr.

January 6th on the Christian calendar is known as Epiphany, the day that follows the 12th Day of Christmas and “Twelfth Night”.  Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth”.  It is, in fact, a day to rise and give thanks for the rising of his star in the East, and the showing forth of Christ to the Gentiles, spoken of by the prophets. Epiphany has been called “the Gentile Christmas”, and in the Western Church the story of the Magi’s visit to the infant King in Matthew’s Gospel is the one most associated with Epiphany.

“Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and the thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  The Gentiles will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”  Isaiah 60:1-3

magi

Tonight, the three grown children who are within reach will join David and I for an Epiphany dinner.  A cookbook of recipes for all the liturgical seasons, given to me by Molly Ruch, will help me prepare Fireside Punch and a Twelfth Cake.  I look forward to singing the beautiful Epiphany Hymn, Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness which our church children will also be learning this season.  If you have younger children in your midst, it is a wonderful time of the church year to celebrate with treasure hunts, a Three Kings Cake, and especially through time with the Epiphany stories in the gospels that reveal who Jesus was: not just a kind or a good man, wise teacher, or someone who was mistakenly put to death by those who didn’t recognize him, but as the God-Man, the Savior of the world who came to rescue all of Creation by his Incarnation, life, death and his rising!  I would be happy to provide a copy of some Epiphany “explorations” that you could use at home with children if that would help.

Epiphany is also a time to remember Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.  At his baptism, Jesus received the Holy Spirit and began to show forth who he was to the world.  The first Sunday after the Epiphany is still a traditional time for baptisms. This Sunday at Church of the Cross, we look forward to welcoming seven children through the sacrament of baptism, four of whom are answering for themselves in response to the light of Christ arising in their lives.  Please pray for the children and rejoice with the families of Caroline, Adeline, Madeline, Elliot, Elizabeth, Jack and Zoe.

In our own observance of this time of the church year when mysteries are revealed, we can remember what little revelation the wise men had when they set out in search of the newborn King.  (Here is a short, wonderful sermon by John Donne on “The Showing Forth of Christ.”)  How rich and complete is the revelation we have received in comparison! How much more we have to go on as we follow the Star.  May God reveal himself to us anew in the days ahead, and may our response be to kneel and worship, offering Jesus the gift of our hearts.

'ADORATION OF THE MAGI'

1 Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
bow down before Him, His glory proclaim;
gold of obedience and incense of lowliness
bring, and adore him; the Lord is his Name!

2 Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness,
high on his heart he will bear it for thee,
comfort thy sorrows, and answer thy prayerfulness,
guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.

3 Fear not to enter his courts in the slenderness
of the poor wealth thou wouldst reckon as thine;
truth in its beauty, and love in its tenderness,
these are the offerings to lay on His shrine.

4 These, though we bring them in trembling and fearfulness,
he will accept for the Name that is dear;
mornings of joy give for evenings of tearfulness,
trust for our trembling, and hope for our fear.

5 Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
bow down before Him, His glory proclaim;
gold of obedience and incense of lowliness
bring, and adore him; the Lord is his Name!

Words: John S.B.Monsell Tune: Uttingen