EPIPHANY – jan 6

At about that time some astrologers from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in far-off eastern lands and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:1-2

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Epiphany as a Christian feast finds its earliest reference in AD 361 by Ammianus Marcellinus.  This day, marking the end of Christmastide, celebrates the announcement to the entire world of the arrival of the Christ – the union of human and divine – in the child named Jesus.

The child Jesus was brought into existence to proclaim first to the Jewish shepherds and secondly to all non-Jews the birth of a new order in the world where man and God are united.   This baby Jesus was proclaimed to all mankind, regardless of race and creed or sex and lifestyle, as a king, savior and messiah.  Jesus, the man, through teachings and words attributed to him, asserted the worth and value of all humankind.  None is excluded.  Neither you nor I, Muslim nor Hindu, American nor Mexican is missing a seat at his table.  That is the essence of the feast of Epiphany.  Love and compassion incarnate came into the world to show us how to live.

 

 

CHRISTMASTIDE – Hallelujah!

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

By now everybody has been wearied by Christmas.  Can’t wait to take down the decorations (Lord knows they’ve been up since the day after Thanksgiving), put the tree back up in the attic, exchange all those stupid sweaters and pen sets you got for something you really need, and clean house preparing for New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Whoa!  What’s the rush?  We are in Christmastide now.  What?  You never heard of the 12 days of Christmas.  Yeah, aside from the partridge in the pear tree there is a liturgical calendar which says those 12 days run from December 25th to January 6th of 2019.  This is when the commercialization and the hectic pace of pre-Christmas insanity finally takes a back seat to a season of fully appreciating the birth of Jesus.  Christmastide ends on January 6 with the feast of Epiphany.

If you love your decorations and the nativity scene, just tell your complaining neighbors or your wife that it is perfectly proper, liturgically, to keep those joys of Christmas on display at least until January 6th.  If they should lament having to see your lights and wreaths and tree and the baby Jesus on the front lawn another 12 days, inform them that the Catholic Christmastide lasts for 40 days into February and you are considering converting to Catholicism.

No, don’t do that.  I am being facetious.   The official church calendar calls this period the ‘octave of Christmas’, because in those 12 days are 8 solemn days of rejoicing, days emphasized by particular joy, lavishness, pomp, and glory.  These are days to shout Hallelujah, meaning ‘praise ye the Lord’.  And why is that?  Because the baby whom we celebrate, literally or symbolically, has changed the world unlike any other event, or story, in history.

“Praise ye the Lord.  O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 106:1

I like that.  There is something comforting, something joyful in knowing that we trust a good, merciful God who sent us a baby, the greatest story ever told, to teach the world how to love. HALLELUJAH!

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Epiphany

EPIPHANY.  It’s dictionary definition is “a moment of profound insight.”  The Christian tradition celebrates this feast as the last of the 12 days of Christmas sometimes calling it Theophany or Three Kings Day.  It is the day when the Magi, having followed the star over Bethlehem, arrive to witness the arrival of God incarnate, Jesus, the Christ.

three kings day“We observed his star at its rising.”  Matthew 2:2

In the dialog presented by the author of Matthew, the birth of a peaceful Savior greatly disturbed King Herod and frightened all of Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3) leading the King to order the murder of all infants less than 2 years old.  The scriptures don’t tell us of what Herod and Jerusalem were afraid.  Competition?  Losing power? Change?

Even though Jesus has been with us for the past 2000 years, our world hasn’t changed, has it?  Those in power want to hang on to their power; they are afraid of change.  They are afraid of competition from a spiritual entity which could usurp through the sharing of a peaceful message the materialistic and egotistic power which they wield.  Jesus had an uphill battle from his birth to bring God’s message of peaceful existence to a corrupt and heartless humanity.  That humanity crucified Jesus in hopes of neutralizing a lifestyle totally contrary to the ways of greed and degradation which the world loved and pursued.  But, they failed to realize that the God-spark, that divine DNA within each of us, cannot be quashed.  It cannot be denied its rightful place as heir to our divine nature.  Jesus’ spirit lives on forever having been victorious over physical death and human depravity.  He reigns!

That star over Bethlehem typifies the light of Christ.  The book of Matthew tells us that the star drew the Magi from distant lands with earthly gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh, but they then bowed in spiritual reverence at the cradle of a Savior, a messenger of peace.

Happy Three Kings Day.  The light of Christ continues to shine independent of one’s religious tradition or lack thereof.  It is the light which overcomes our fears, which relieves our anxieties, which blazes on eternally to remind us that who we are in Christ CANDLEshould be the brightest star in our personal universes.  It is God’s light which shines into the deepest recesses of our fears bringing, through Jesus, a reign of inner peace and serenity.  It is truly an epiphany worthy of celebration.

Lord, let it soak in, let that light enter all my fearful spaces and create from my spark of divine DNA a beacon of comfort to mankind.  Amen

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 4:7namaste rainbow