Happy Epiphany!

This morning I did some reading on Epiphany.  Traditionally, Epiphany is observed January 6 (yesterday), the twelfth day of Christmas (you know, "partridge in a pear tree," etc.).  In some Christian traditions, Epiphany is a day only.  In others it is a season.  Usually I think of it as a day, but this year is different: because Easter is so late (April 24-- about as late as it possibly can be) I'm thinking of Epiphany as a season.  A nine week season.  Wow.  That's almost as long as the seasons of Advent (before Christmas) and Lent (before Easter) combined.

Epiphany means "manifestation," or "appearance."  We recall the star which led the magi to visit the infant Jesus (not at his birth, by the way-- and the scripture (Matthew 2:1-12) says nothing about "three" or "kings").  The magi followed the star and brought gifts to the Christ child.  They were not Jews-- they were most likely astronomers from modern Iran.  At Epiphany we celebrate the manifestation or appearance of God revealed in Christ and spend the next several weeks learning about his life.  And we wonder: what gifts of great value-- maybe not gold/frankincense/myrrh-- would we bring to Jesus?

I learned literally this morning of a custom for Epiphany that I immediately loved: writing in chalk above the doorway of one's home a code-- a series of letters, numbers and crosses.  The numbers represent the year, the letters the traditional names of the magi (again, the text doesn't say there were three, but that's not the point here).  So I got some chalk, always in plentiful supply at our home, and wrote above the door: "20+C+B+M+11"  2011, Caspar, Balthazar, and Melchior.  The C/B/M also notes the first letters of a Latin blessing: Christus mansionem benedicat, "Christ bless this home."  Here's a picture:

You can also see it in real life at the Epiphany Party at our home this Sunday, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. (come and go).  It's our way of saying thank you for allowing us to be the parsonage family of this great church.  As party favors, we'll hand out chalk for anyone who wants to write "20+C+B+M+11" above their door.  Here's a nice little liturgy to go with it:

One: "Peace be with be with this house and all who live here."
All: "And peace be with all who enter here."
Read Matthew 2:1-12.
Pray: O Lord, God of all that exists, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by a star.  Bless this house and all who inhabit it.  Fill each of us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

I invite everyone to observe this nice little blessing for home, family, and guests.  Keep the chalk above your door throughout the season of Epiphany-- all the way through February-- and see how God is manifested within your home.

Peace be with all who enter our homes-- including our church home!
- Pastor Frank

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