Getting Ready for the Eve of Epiphany

Fernando Gallego [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Christmas season is almost over. Sunday is the Eve of Epiphany, the last day of the 12 days of Christmas. We will strip our Christmas tree of its ornaments, move it back outside to prepare for another year, and turn off the Christmas lights. This doesn’t mean that the light of God has gone out however, rather it means that it is time for the light of God to be spread out into the world. Each of us is a bearer of God’s light and it is time for us to get moving. We are encouraged during the season of Epiphany to come and see, come and follow, go and tell others.

Part of what I have been thinking about today is – “What does it take to get us moving?” “What motivates us to get out into the world and be God’s light of healing, reconciliation and love?” I have reflected on this in  a previous post from 2010 and my concerns have not changed.  The light of God has not gone out of the world, but it certainly has not gone out into the world as God would desire either. How do you think we can change this?

Through Advent we have watched and waited,

In Christmas we have found the Messiah,

And we have been changed.

Now we must follow God’s guiding star,

Light to the world, redemption for all people.

We can no longer be satisfied with the old life,

We must journey deeper into God.

May we open our ears to listen,

So that we can hear God’s heartbeat.

May we open our eyes to watch,

So that we can see God’s presence.

May we open our minds to believe,

So that we can embrace God’s ways.

May we open our hearts to trust,

So that we can share God’s salvation.

Amen

You may also like to check out these posts from previous years:

The Eve of Epiphany – Saying Goodbye to Christmas 

Eve of Epiphany – We have Come, We Have Seen Now We Must Follow

Epiphany is Coming – Evening Prayers for the Season

Liturgy for Epiphany

Epiphany – An Invitation to Follow Jesus

The coming of the Magi

The coming of the Magi

Tomorrow is the Eve of Epiphany, the last evening of the Christmas season. The following day, January 6th is Epiphany. In the past I have written morning and evening prayers for this coming season, but this year have spent most of my time reflecting on the implications of this season for my life and ministry.

As I wrote in my Epiphany post a couple of years ago:

We have watched and waited through Advent, we have celebrated Christmas and the joy of our Saviour’s birth and now we are being asked to follow, to recognize the revelation of Christ in our midst and journey into the new life he offers us.

The question that has revolved in my is What does the new life of God look like? Where am I following Christ to?

These questions are particularly pertinent as I am also rereading Ann Voskamp’s wonderful book  One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  Ann points out that the first sin of Adam and Eve in the garden was ingratitude, dissatisfaction with all that God had gifted them with. She contends that the key to finding the fullness of life that God intends for us is learning to be grateful for every moment and every circumstance.

I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wounds of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July… and all the good things that God gives…. rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows…..

The only real prayers are the ones mouthed with thankful lips. Because gratitude ushers into the other side of prayer, into the heart of the God-love, and all power to change the world, me, resides here in his love. (p58,60)

The season of Epiphany is an invitation to follow Jesus into the ways of gratitude and joy,. We are no longer bound by the dissatisfaction of our consumer culture that tells us to keep striving for more stuff, more success, more money, more of everything for myself. Instead we are invited to learn to live in the joy and contentment of seeing every moment as a gift from God. As Paul encourages us:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice… Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. (Phil 4:4, 6-7)

And again

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:4,5)

So as we move into Epiphany this year let us do so with joy and gratitude, savouring each moment God gives us as precious gift. Let us show others that we really are content with God alone and need nothing more than the love of God to fill us with joy and gratitude.

A Prayer for the Eve of Epiphany

Through Advent we have watched and waited

In Christmas we have found the Messiah

And we have been changed

Now we must follow God’s guiding star

Light to the world, redemption for all people

We can no longer be satisfied with the old life

We must journey deeper into God

May we open our ears to listen

So that we can hear God’s heartbeat

May we open our eyes to watch

So that we can see God’s presence

May we open our minds to believe

So that we can embrace God’s ways

May we open our hearts to trust

So that we can share God’s salvation

Amen

Preparing for Epiphany

Wise men from Jesusmafa Camaroons

Tomorrow evening we will celebrate the Eve of Epiphany and the celebration of the arrival of the magi.  We have watched and waited through Advent, we have celebrated Christmas and the joy of our Saviour’s birth and now we are being asked to follow, to recognize the revelation of Christ in our midst and journey into the new life he offers us.  As I commented last year – this is the season when we are encouraged to come and see, come and follow, go and tell others.

Because Tom & I did not grow up in a liturgical tradition, we assemble our creche before Christmas with the Magi already there.  But traditionally, our turbaned wise men with their camels should move slowly around our house towards the manger, only arriving on January 5th – the Eve of Epiphany.

This is an incredible season that many of us ignore, unaware of its significance.  The Magi were star watchers and they knew that the rising of God’s morning star heralded an event of cosmic proportions.  They left everything behind to follow the star.

I wonder at their improbably presence in the Christmas story, at their capacity to recognize the divine lying in the gloom of poverty.

But where are the Jewish sages to join them around my tiny creche?  Where are the religious leaders who longed for the Messiah?  They were invited.  The star led the magi to Jerusalem.  News of Israel’s Saviour reached the holy land on the lips of foreigners.  The priests were able to name the place of the Messiah’s birth from prophecy and pointed the pagans in the right direction.  But why – why – did none follow? (From Invitation to Epiphany: tabitha Plueddemann Mosaic Bible)

Every Christmas we meet with Christ in a new way, a way that should mean death to our old selves and new birth into the eternal life of God.  Epiphany is an invitation to follow the Christ that we have encountered in new ways over the Christmas season and beginning a new journey.

For the magi their journey towards the Christmas star was life changing.  They could no longer go back to their old gods.  They could no longer walk the old paths or be satisfied with the old life.   They had met the Messiah and recognized him as light to the world not just as God’s glory revealed to Israel.  They had seen him as God’s redeemer to foreigners as well as to the Jews.  And as a result they did not go back to the religious leaders of jerusalem after their revelation – they went home by a different way.

How has our journey towards Christ and the light of his presence changed us this Christmas season?  What new journeys are we embarking in that show we have been touched by God’s light?   How can we better follow him into a new journey that leads us and others towards God’s eternal light?

Scripture Readings for Christmas and Epiphany Seasons

The Christmas season is almost upon us and most of us are giving a sigh of relief.  By the end of the week the festivities will be over, the shops will have stripped their Christmas decorations, disposed of their Christmas stock with huge sales and looking for the next secular celebration.  How wonderful to think that for those of us who follow Jesus the season of Christmas is actually just beginning.   As I wrote on my blog a couple of years ago

In the sixth century it was decided that celebrating Christmas just for a day didn’t provide time to celebrate all the joy that Christ’s birth brought into the world. They made Christmas into a twelve day festival that ended with a feast on the Eve of Epiphany on January 5th to celebrate the coming of the wise men. Yep that’s right the 12 days of Christmas begin with Christmas Day they don’t end there as many malls would have us believe. In countries where this understanding of Christmas has not been co-opted by the commercialism of our society Christmas trees are not decorated until Christmas Eve and remain in the house sparking with light and life until the Eve of Epiphany.  Read the entire article

Now is a great time to reflect on how we want to follow Christ throughout the year.  For me the more relaxed season after Christmas Day (when I will probably not be blogging) is a great time to think about my observances throughout the year. For those of you who want to continue following the liturgical calendar here are some suggestions for scripture readings for this season and throughout the year.

The Daily Office From the Book of Common Prayer

Readings from United Church of Christ based on revised Common Lectionary

Presbyterian USA daily readings

The Daily Office from the Episcopal Church US

Northumbria Community Daily Offices

Daily Prayer with the Irish Jesuits

Daily Prayer from the Catholic Church in Australia

A collection of reflections from early church fathers and others for Christmas and Epiphany season

Reflections from Forward Day by Day

For those that may want to develop a plan for the entire year:

The Voice: The entire liturgical calendar of readings

Christianity: A Plan for Reading the Entire Bible in a Year

Upper Room Ministries provides beautiful and often very moving daily devotional prayers and meditations

Liturgy for Epiphany

For some of you this is probably a little late.  However at the Mustard Seed House we will use this prayer for our morning prayers throughout the season of Epiphany so I thought that others might like to join us. Evening prayers can be found here

Morning Prayer for the Season of Epiphany

Arise shine inheritors of God’s light

Bearers of God’s light to our darkened world,

The light of God has come into our world,

And nations will come to its brightness.

Arise sine, privileged ones who live in the light of Christ,

Bow before God, not in shame but in awe,

 

 

All is visible in Christ’s eternal light,

In us God’s light never goes out.

(Pause to remind yourself of the ways that Christ has been revealed as Son of God in your own life.How has God used your life to bring Christ’s light into the life of others?)

Arise shine, in Christ, God’s light has been revealed to us,

It reaches across time and space,

We have come to see,

We have come to follow,

Arise shine, in Christ God’s light has been revealed to all people,

God’s glory has been unveiled in all the earth,

May we go and tell,

May we go and share God’s light with our needy world.

Read Scriptures of the day from Daily Lectionary

Come and see

The light of God has come into our world

To proclaim God’s justice and love

It has overcome the darkness and brought new life.

Come and follow

Christ our king has redeemed our world

He draws us into a loving family

From every tribe and family and culture

Go and tell

The Spirit has equipped us for service

To love our neighbours as we do ourselves

To bring God’s salvation to the ends of the earth

Come and see, come and follow, go and tell

In God’s Son the nations of the earth will put their hope

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen

God who revealed yourself to wise men following a star,

Guide all who search and journey towards your light today,

God whose light shines like a bright guiding star have mercy on us.

God who unveiled yourself in the gift of a son,

Show yourself to all who seek after justice and righteousness today,

God whose light shines like a bright guiding star have mercy on us.

God who was baptized with those who declared their repentance in the Jordan river,

Manifest yourself to all who come with repentant hearts today,

God whose light shines like a bright guiding star have mercy on us.

God who fed the five thousand with a handful of fish and loaves,

Satisfy our hunger with your word of truth and love,

God whose light shines like a bright guiding star have mercy on us.

God who changed water into wine at a wedding,

Fill all who thirst with the free gift of the water of life,

God whose light shines like a bright guiding star have mercy on us.

(Pause to offer up your own intercessions.)

Lord God Almighty, thank you that Jesus’ epiphany as Son of God reaches across time and space.  As we go into this day may we embrace your call to come and see, come and follow, go and tell others.  May we remember that we are bearers of Christ’s light sent out to touch others so that they may know him as Son of God and experience the wonder hope his message brings

Go into the world knowing you are led by the light of Christ,

May the love of the Creator go before you,

May the life of the Redeemer be within you,

May the joy of the Spirit shine through you,

Amen.

Epiphany

p1010007

Today marks the last official day of the celebration of Christmas culminating with the Feast Day of Epiphany this evening which celebrates the coming of the wise men.  However this does not mean that our celebrations are over.  We are now entering the season of epiphany which is a season that commemorates the revelation of Christ.  Three events are usually associated with the season

  • The coming of the Magi and the revelation of Christ as Son of God to all the peoples of the world
  • The baptism of Christ and his revelation of Christ as Son of God to the disciples and the crowds that came to John the Baptist at the river Jordan for repentance.
  • The wedding at Cana where through the transformation of water into wine we catch the first glimpse of God’s new world of celebration, joy and abundance.

This is a season in which we are encouraged to come and see, come and follow, go and tell others.  As followers of Christ we are invited to reveal him to others so that they too might recognize him as Son of God and experience the hope and freedom that his message brings.  I think that this is also a season to broaden our vision to remind ourselves of the many ways in which Christ is at work in our world – we need to look and listen for God’s voice and come and see the things that God is doing not jsut in our own churches and communities but also amongst the poor, amongst the oppressed, amongst the marginalized and ignored.

God is actively at work in our world if we will take the time to come and see, come and follow and go and tell others. Later today I plan to upload liturgies for morning and evening prayer during the season of epiphany I find that using prayers like this helps me to focus on Christ and the responsibilities that go with being a follower of Christ.

How are you responding to God’s call at this season and how do you plan to remind yourself of this call?