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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 6: Epiphany

Today is a holiday in Sweden. It is called trettondag, the 13th day after Christmas Eve. In English it is known as Epiphany, an aspect of the Advent-Christmas cycle that is often unknown and uncelebrated by the church. Many cultures refer to this day as The Day of the Three Kings and celebrate the visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus. In Sweden, most are just happy that they don't have to work today. They have little or no idea why today is a "red day" (how holidays are referred to here in Sweden). But to be fair, perhaps there are many Christians who are unaware of this tradition as well. Some churches may have celebrated Epiphany on Sunday, but many likely did not as well. I would guess that most Americans do not know that today is Epiphany.
So what is Epiphany anyway? Literally speaking, the word means to come into light, to come suddenly into view, to present oneself, to appear. Epiphany celebrates the light that is Christ being born in our world and now flooding our lives with his hope and his love. Epiphany reminds us that while Christmas is over, Christ lives on. The light of Christ that we dared to hope for throughout the advent season has dawned and is not quenched. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome...even in January when life seems a bit glum. Even in February when we begin our longing for a season change. Even in March when spring is supposed to arrive yet seldom does. The light that is Christ is not related to weather. Rather, it is constant and comforting.
May the light of Christ be your guiding light throughout this new year. May the light of Christ shine forth where darkness threatens. May the light of Christ comfort and calm you as the challenges of the new year become apparent. May the light of Christ shine brightly wherever you most need it.
One of the hymns we sing in church begins like this:
"Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes, let me see...beauty that made this heart adore you, hope of a life spent with you." The gift of Christmas lives on because Christ entered our world and to bring light and life to our lives.
May this truth reign in your heart throughout the coming year.
Happy New Year!