Happy New Year! And, my best wishes for a happy, healthy and blessed 2020 to all of St. Luke’s members and friends.
With the beginning of this month, we are now in the calendar year 2020. I have a vivid memory of seeing the year 2020. The time was in the early 1980’s, and I was an undergraduate student at Moody Bible Institute. I happened to be majoring in Church Music, and so I was actively involved at a small church on the border of Chicago and Oak Park, in the Austin area of the city. That Evangelical Lutheran church had a wonderful music director and organist, and I was his music intern.
While I was going over the church music calendar for the next few months at the beginning of that year in the 1980’s, I happened to look down the liturgical calendar. I am not sure whether everyone knows, but the celebration of Easter is not a set date, like Christmas – December 25. The observance of Easter is set by a lunar calendar, so Easter is observed on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or just after the Spring equinox. (Figuring exactly when Easter occurs, then, is a bit involved.) I remember scanning the dates and the years written on the liturgical calendar chart, and the last year written was 2020.
“Wow,” I thought, “that’s a very long time away.” I marveled at the thought of a time over thirty years in the future. Yes, that was and is a vivid memory.
But – now the year is 2020. I haven’t looked at a liturgical calendar chart recently. Yet, the Church Year continues its procession, and the church seasons and liturgical colors change with regularity. The purple or blue of Advent has given way to the white or gold of Christmas. Since Epiphany is the celebration of the Twelfth Day of Christmas, our church will be hung with white altar cloths, or paraments. This is the day that tradition tells us the Three Kings (or, Magi) came to visit the Holy Family.
As the Twelfth Day, this is the culmination of the Christmas celebration. (Some regions in church history did indeed celebrate for twelve days.) The term “Epiphany” means to reveal or to show. The wise men bring their gifts to the Christ Child, revealing him to the world as Lord and King. The symbols of Epiphany can include three crowns (for the three kings) or a star. I would like us to focus on the star, the Star of Bethlehem.
This is a continuation of our theme for Advent, that of light and darkness. We discovered throughout the weeks of Advent that God made God’s promises known using both light and darkness. Whether a message from the bright angel of the Lord delivered in darkness, the Star of Bethlehem traveling by night, or the radiant beams from the face of the newborn Baby in the manger, light and darkness communicate God’s Good News to us. The bright light shines at Epiphany, which is the end of a big celebration. The Magi are led by a “Star of wonder, star of light.” It is always a wonderful time to celebrate: for us a Child is born, for us a Son is given.
Alleluia, amen! Thank You, dear Lord.
from Pastor Elizabeth Jones