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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 12th Day of Christmas, Trettondag or Epiphany?

Well, it's all 3!  Today is either the 12th day of Christmas or as the Swedes say, Trettondag, the 13th day.  Depends on whether you count Christmas Day as the first day of Christmas or the 26th.  Most traditions start on the 26th but Christmas Eve is the big day of Christmas celebrations here that the Swedes go with Christmas day as the First day of Christmas.  In Christian circles it is known as Epiphany.  Many cultures celebrate the visitation of the Magi on this day. No matter what you call it, it's a public holiday here in Sweden so I'm reveling in this post New Year gift of a free day.  Doug has the sermon Sunday so I really am free to do as I please!  The Christian term Epiphany means to show, or to make known, to reveal.  The Wise Men's visits revealed that Christ was born that all in our world could have access to him.  His birth as an infant child showed his vulnerability in inviting all who desire to come to know him to draw him.  Epiphany also marks the end of the Advent and Christmas seasons in the church.
Now the Advent and Christ Candles will be put away
Our focus shifts now to journey through the period between Christ's birth and his journey to the cross known as the season of Lent in the church.  I suppose for many, when the season of Christmas ends, it feels sad and lonely.  Nothing to really look forward to in the immediate future.  Winter is stretching out long, cold and dark.  Spring feels a bit far away. 
On New Year's Eve we shared a lovely, quiet dinner together sharing hopes and dreams for 2011.  We can do this again sometime, even when it's not New Year's Eve!
And yet, for me, there's a good feeling to also end the Christmas season with a deep sense of satisfaction and joy and somehow return to the art of living my daily life for most of life is not comprised of high, holy celebrations, but the task of every day happenings.  The gift of Epiphany is that Jesus reveals to us that he's coming with us now.  He doesn't remain a baby in the manger.  No, the incarnation announced that he dwelt among us but that reality remains...he still dwells among us. 
The Light keeps shining in the darkness of even cold and dark January
So our challenge now is to figure out how to live more closely to Jesus in the daily stuff, when the special moments have gone by and we're left with cleaning and working and getting along with friends and family.  There's something very sacred and comforting about routine and so if your spirits are low because the high time is behind you, I encourage you to rest in the comfort that God will appear to you in the ordinary, boring, tiresome tasks that most of 2011 will be comprised of!  But when those high, holy moments occur in the next year, don't forget to praise God by saying, "Glory to God in the Highest" even if it is July.My prayers go with you for a great year.  I'm at peace, relaxed and expectant for the year ahead.  Praise God.