Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Happy 12th Night! Today marks the last day of the Christmas season. Customs are varied regarding this last day of Christmas. People celebrate with food and drink, exchange gifts and in many traditions this would mark the day to take down the Christmas decorations (it was considered by some to be bad luck if the decorations were left up beyond the 12th!). Some communities gather with their undecorated Christmas trees and hold a large fire. However one may celebrate this day , may the light of Christ’s love and forgiveness shine upon all of us as we celebrate the greatest gift of our lives!
Following 12th Night, we celebrate the day of Epiphany. Epiphany means “to reveal.” On this day we remember the story in the Gospel of Matthew, of the wise men who come from the East seeking a king. They follow the star which brings them to the place where Jesus, Mary and Joseph had gathered. Here, they present Jesus with gifts of gold (king), frankincense (priest) and myrrh (a resin used in burials). The Gospel says their eyes are open to the nature of Jesus and these are the first gentiles to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. Some customs see this day, January 6, as the day for gift giving. Some folks chalk their doors with the following : 20 + C + M + B + 23. The 20 and 23 represent the year. The crosses are the cross of Christ and the initials C (Caspar), M (Melchior) and B (Balthazar) are the first initial of the three wise men’s names. In other traditions the CMB are Latin abbreviations for Christus Mansionem Benedicat (May Christ bless this house).
Like Christmas, the day of Epiphany begins the Epiphany season which lasts considerably longer than the 12 days of Christmas. In the Episcopal and Lutheran traditions, the Epiphany season runs up to and including Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. So the season can run as long as 4 to 9 weeks depending when we celebrate the day of Easter.
May the light of this Epiphany season fill us with warmth, strength and comfort as God leads us in the way of love through Jesus.