The Season and Meaning of Epiphany – WoC 2013/14

AdFinesTerrae: Today, in the liturgical calendar, January 6th, is… Epiphany (Gk: ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation” or “appearance”) a Christian celebration of the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in the incarnation, God with us. It is also connected to the travelling Magi, the three wise men who came from the east. These men brought gifts, gifts which held important significance and gifts which highlighted certain aspects of this young baby in a manger.

If you are familiar with the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, then you know that Christmas is a twelve day celebration of the Birth of the Christ Child. The First Day of Christmas is December 25th.

In Western tradition, from a manuscript dating from the 6th C. The three Magi have been named and given national identities. Melchior (also Melichior), a Persian scholar. Caspar (also Gaspar, Jaspar, Jaspas, Gathaspa, and other variations), an Indian scholar. And Balthazar (also Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea), an Arabian scholar.

They came and brought Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The three gifts, are gold for a king, for a crown. Frankincense as perfume and and fragrant burning, for intercession, the incense which goes up to God. And Myrrh for cleansing the deceased, anticipating the sacrifice of Christ. All of which were extremely valuable in the time of Christ. These were gifts for one who was of magisterial importance.

The question for us is this: When you see the Lord for who he is, what are you prepared to give of great cost to him in response? Like Abraham who sees Melchidzedek, or David pouring out the water from the well of Bethlehem, or Mary breaking the jar of perfume, or the three Magi, what are you prepared to bring? It is right, especially at the cusp of the new year, we reflect and consider what we can bring to offer to the Lord.

This is a feast day of consecration, to give of ourselves to the Lord for the year ahead. What are you prepared to give?

Some of my greatest memories of the Christmas season involves going to mass on Christmas Eve as a child with my family and then participating in the Glory of Christmas (and Easter) for over 10-years as a family, with my husband and daughter, at the Crystal Cathedral… which after 30-years is now dark.  My husband was blessed to portray the part of all 3 Kings, Magi or Wisemen over the years and our daughter flew as one of the angels.

The 3 KingsDon As Gold KingCC - A Solitary Life

Nativity – The Reason for the Season

Sometime between January 2nd and January 19th… depending on your denomination and part of the world, Christians celebrate the Epiphany.

In western Christian tradition, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. (or, for Romanclip_image001 Catholics in many countries, on the Sunday that falls between January 2 and January 8). It goes by other names in various church traditions.  In Hispanic and Latin culture, as well as some places in Europe, it is known as Three Kings’ Day (Span: el Dia de los Tres Reyes, la Fiesta de Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos; Dutch: Driekoningendag). Because of differences in church calendars, mainly between the Eastern Orthodox and the western Catholic and Protestant traditions, both Christmas and Epiphany have been observed at different times in the past.  Today, most of the Eastern Orthodox traditions follow the western church calendar. The exceptions are some Greek Orthodox Churches and related traditions (for example, Russian and Serbian Orthodox) that still follow the older calendar and celebrate Epiphany as the Theophany on January 19th.

Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day. In following this older custom of counting the days beginning at sundown, the evening of January 5th is the Twelfth Night. This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King’s Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany (a King’s Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA). 

In some church traditions, only the full days are counted so that January 5th is the Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 6th is the Twelfth Day, and the evening of January 6th is counted as the Twelfth Night.

In traditional Christian churches Christmas, as well as Easter, is celebrated as a period of time, a season of the church year, rather than just a day. The Season of the Church Year associated with Christmas actually begins with the first Sunday of Advent, four Sundays before Christmas Day.  Advent is marked by expectation and anticipation in preparing to celebrate the coming of Jesus.  Christmas begins with Christmas Day December 25 and lasts for Twelve Days until Epiphany, January 6, which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity. The one or two Sundays between Christmas Day and Epiphany are sometimes called Christmastide

babyjesus.jpg (30908 bytes)For many Protestant church traditions, the season of Epiphany extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter.  Depending on the timing of Easter, this longer period of Epiphany includes from four to nine Sundays.  Other traditions, especially the Roman Catholic tradition, observe Epiphany as a single day, with the Sundays following Epiphany counted as Ordinary Time. In some western traditions, the last Sunday of Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday.

The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal.” In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing “reveal” Jesus to the world as Lord and King. In some Central and South American countries influenced by Catholic tradition, Three Kings’ Day, or the night before, is the time for opening Christmas presents. In some eastern churches, Epiphany or the Theophany commemorates Jesus’ baptism, with the visit of the Magi linked to Christmas. In some churches the day is celebrated as Christmas, with Epiphany/Theophany occurring on January 19th.

Symbols of Epiphany

The colors of Epiphany are usually the colors of Christmas, white and gold, the colors of celebration, newness, and hope that mark the most sacred days of the church year. In traditions that only observe a single day for Epiphany, the colors are often changed after Epiphany to the colors of Ordinary Time, usually green or thematic sanctuary colors, until Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent. The colors for Transfiguration Sunday are usually the colors of Holy Days, white and gold.

The traditional liturgical symbols of Epiphany are usually associated with the Magi. The symbols include either three crowns or a single crown, various portrayals of the Magi or Wise Men, three gifts, a five pointed star, or a combination of a star and crown. A more modern symbol of Epiphany is a globe or a stylized portrayal of the world.

Around January 6, the symbol +C+B+M+ with two numbers before and two numbers after (for example, 20+C+B+M+10) is sometimes seen written in chalk above the doorway of Christian homes. The letters are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. These letters also abbreviate the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The beginning and ending numbers are the year, 2010 in the example above. The crosses represent Christ.

Marking the lintels of doorways is an old European practice that originally had overtones of magic (protection of the house). However, the symbols are now used throughout the world and usually represent a traditional Epiphany prayer and blessing.

A Blessing for the Marking of Doorways

Leader: Peace be with this house and with all who live here.

Response (All): And peace be with all who enter here.

Leader: During these days of the Christmas season, we keep this Feast of Epiphany, celebrating the manifestation of Christ to the Magi, and thereby to the whole world. Today, Christ is manifest to us! Today this home is a holy place because of the presence of Christ here.

Leader: Listen to the Gospel according to Matthew.

2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2:2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 2:6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 2:8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 2:9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 2:11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Leader: This is the word of the Lord to you.

Response (All): Thanks be to God!

Leader: O God, Lord of all that exists, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of 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.

Response (All): Amen

Significance of Epiphany in the Church

As with most aspects of the Christian liturgical calendar, Epiphany has theological significance as a teaching tool in the church. The Wise Men or Magi who brought gifts to the child Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as “King” and so were the first to “show” or “reveal” Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ. This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s blessing that this child Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few.

The day is now observed as a time of focusing on the mission of the church in reaching others by “showing” Jesus as the Savior of all people. It is also a time of focusing on Christian brotherhood and fellowship, especially in healing the divisions of prejudice and bigotry that we all too often create between God’s children.

Epiphany

Have a Blessed Epiphany

An Epiphany Prayer

Father, we thank you for revealing yourself to us in Jesus the Christ, we who once were not your people but whom you chose to adopt as your people. As ancient Israel confessed long ago, we realize that it was not because of our own righteousness, or our own superior wisdom, or strength, or power, or numbers. It was simply because you loved us, and chose to show us that love in Jesus.

As you have accepted us when we did not deserve your love, will you help us to accept those whom we find it hard to love? Forgive us, O Lord, for any attitude that we harbor that on any level sees ourselves as better or more righteous than others.  Will you help us to remove the barriers of prejudice and to tear down the walls of bigotry, religious or social?  O Lord, help us realize that the walls that we erect for others only form our own prisons!

Will you fill us so full of your love that there is no more room for intolerance. As you have forgiven us much, will you enable us with your strength to forgive others even more? Will you enable us through your abiding Presence among us, communally and individually, to live our lives in a manner worthy of the Name we bear?

May we, through your guidance and our faithful obedience, find new avenues in ways that we have not imagined of holding the Light of your love so that it may be a Light of revelation for all people.

We thank you for your love, praise you for your Gift, ask for your continued Presence with us, and bring these petitions in the name of your Son, who has truly revealed your heart.  Amen.

Read An Epiphany Devotional – by Dennis Bratcher

My husband, whose birthday is December 8th, played the part of one of the Wise Men for years in Glory of Christmas at the Crystal Cathedral. He played all three parts at different times but was primarily King Caspar and our daughter and I were part of his entourage until our daughter began to fly as one of the Angels

Our family as King Caspar and King Balthazar and entourage

Today is the wrap for The War on Christmas (and religion) verses the Spirit of Christmas Series at AskMarion for the 2013/14 Season, Installment 36 – By Marion Algier –  Hope you have enjoyed it and if you missed any of the installments, the links are below.

Related:

The Atheist War on Christmas and Religious Freedom – WoC 2013/14

War on Christmas is really part of war on-going religion – WoC 2013/14

The Twelve Days of Christmas – WoC 2013

New Year 2014 – 2013 Wrap – AskMarion WoC Series

New Years Eve – WoC 2013

Everyone Has at Least One Book in Them, Between Christmas and New Years is a Good Time to Start Yours – WoC 2013

Lloyd Marcus Says Thanks Duck Dynasty for the Christmas Gift – WoC 2013

Muslim Groups Are Reportedly Circulating This Illustration of Santa Getting Punched in the Face – WoC 2013

‘Allahu Akbar’: Shock Video Shows Muslims Allegedly ‘Stoning’ Christian Protesters in…Michigan

‘Religious’ Sex Toys for Jews, Christians, & Muslims? You’d Be Surprised

Three American Teachers Slaughtered for Christian Faith in Muslim World (op-ed)

Screaming Anti-Islam Protesters Taunt Muslims With Pig’s Head: ‘You’re Going to Melt in the Fires of Hell!’

‘Miracle’ dog that survived gassing headed to Rose Parade

How The Grinch Stole Healthcare

Kwanzaa – WoC 2013

The 2nd Day of Christmas–St. Stephen’s Day, Boxing Day and Wenceslaus

Members of Congress Win Right to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ Without Ethics Violation – WoC 2013

Merry Christmas From Ask Marion

Simpler Times, A Groetzmeier Christmas – WoC 2013

Presidential Christmas Addresses… WoC 2013

Last Minute, Budget and Gifts of Thoughtfulness – WoC 2013

The Best Part of the Christmas Season – Love, Charity, and Kindness – WoC 2013

Christmas for Pet People – Woc 2013  –  Watch Glenn Beck’s (2012) Emotional Tribute To His Dog, Victor

Christmas Baking – WoC 2013

The Best Christmas Gifts – WoC 2013

Remembering Military and Veterans at Christmastime – W0C 2013

American Traditions – WoC 2013

Still Think There Is No War on Christmas – WoC 2013

In Defense of the Truth and Megyn Kelly – WoC 2013

Carolling… or Caroling and Christmas Music – WoC 2013

Best Christmas Season Movie Classics – WoC 2013

Santa Photos… Often Yesterday’s Oooops Are Tomorrow’s Treasures! – WoC 2013

Christmas Lights – WoC 2013

Nativity Scenes and Glories – The Reason For the Season – WoC 2013

European Markets or Christkindlmarkts Capture the Christmas Spirit – WoC 2013

St. Nickolas Day – WoC 2013

Hanukkah… The Jewish Festival of Lights – WoC 2013

God Rest Ye Merry Merchants – Christmas: An American Holiday and Tradition to Love and Preserve – WoC 2013

Where Does the War on Christmas Come From? A Worthwhile Read – WoC 2013

The War on Christmas verses the Spirit of Christmas Series 2013 at AskMarion – WoC 2013

Advent – The Season of Anticipation and Hope – WoC 2013

2013 Official Christmas Card Only Features the Four-Legged Obamas

Sending Holiday Season Regards to our Conservative Warriors

ANOTHER FAILED IDEA: Woman gets laughed at after bringing up Obamacare at Thanksgiving…

The Twelve Days of ObamaCare

Huckabee’s ’12 Days Of ObamaCare’

Disney scores big with biblical valuesBut their subsidiary A&E suspends Phil Robertson for expressing his

The Thanksgiving Illusion

Obama Thanksgiving and Christmas Disgrace

Keeping Pets Safe for the Holidays: The “Not So Safe” or No-No Pet Food List

Sarah Palin on Politics and Religion • 11/10/13 With Susan Page

The Cross – Billy Graham’s Message To America

Citizenship and Church Membership

Happy 101st Birthday, Daddy

Some Fun Christmas Pet Photos From 2013 and Years Past

Books, Knowledge, History, Memories… How Erasing Them Changes Cultures, Countries, The World – Updated

Atheism: The New Religion

Religious Protection

What If Atheists Completely Had Their Way?

Why I’m Not an Atheist

50 Anti-christmas Atheist Billboards Launched in Sacramento, California…emotionally Fragile Intolerant Atheists Just Can’t Stand the Spirit of Christmas Folks!

Pastor Tells O’Reilly Who’s the Real War on Christmas™ Mastermind: Satan

Books

War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression (Kindle)

The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought

Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity (Kindle)

The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution (Kindle)

There were some great books out for Christmas 2013: ‘Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas’ (Kindle), The Romney Family Table: Sharing Home-Cooked Recipes & Favorite Traditions (Kindle) and Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett: A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Faith, Family, and the Things That Matter Most (Kindle) Plus: Losing Our Religion(Kindle) by atheist S. E. Cupp,  The United States vs. Santa Claus: The Untold Story of the Actual War on Christmas (Kindle) and Culture Warrior (Kindle)

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
This entry was posted in Holidays, Joy, Knowledge Is Power, Religion and Faith, Spirituality, Tradition. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Season and Meaning of Epiphany – WoC 2013/14

  1. Pingback: The Wrap at Ask Marion 1.05.14 Thru 1.12.14 | askmarion

  2. Pingback: It Is Fat Tuesday! Mardi Gras… Karnivale, Fasching, Carnival, Karneval | askmarion

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