Not much seems to be left for us after all the festivities of the Christmas season are gone. Christmas trees are turning brown and loosing their needles. Now they’re more of a fire hazard than anything else. Gifts given and gifts received have already been immobilized by dead batteries, exchanged at the store, or put away in the back corner of a closet. And as we are pushed back into the anything-but-special nature of our daily routine, we understand even more clearly than last year why Janaury is the month in which we are most vulnerable to feelings of disappointment and even depression. As we put the ornaments and Nativity set back into their weathered boxes a voice comes and asks, “What are you left with now?”
Well, for those who put their faith in Christ, the celebrations on Christmas Day do not have to end the morning of December 26th. The Church Year, which began with Advent and Christmas Day, continues its journey to Good Friday, Easter Sunday and straight ahead to Ascension Day, Pentecost and beyond. On January 6th the Christian Church around the world will celebrate again the Festival of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word “Epiphany” means “the display” or “the showing” and centers on the appearance of Jesus to the Gentiles -- to all peoples outside of the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This festival of the Epiphany of our Lord continues the celebration of Jesus Christ, with particular focus on the three foreign “wise Men” or “magi” who traveled afar to worship the announced Savior as he ruled from the manger. We too have been given the revelation from heaven that Jesus has been born for all people -- “a Light to the Gentiles and the Glory of his people Israel,” we often sing of Jesus during services.
To all of us threatened by the surrounding darkness and gloom of a Christ-less January, the Light comes to us again through the Scriptures to remind us that, just as the darkness was overcome when God created the world,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1, 4-5)
A blessed season of the Epiphany of our Lord to you and yours!