What comes up for you when you hear that word? Epiphany! What does it mean? When I hear that word it usually refers to those “ah ha” moments in our lives. As in “what an epiphany to realize she was just like my mother.” Or something like that.
But did you realize that tomorrow, January 06th 2014 is the first day of the season of Epiphany in the church calendar? January 06th is also the anniversary of both my aunt Sylvia and my grandfather Leonard’s death. Yes, several years back Sylvia waited to die until after Christmas, and the first day of epiphany and the day her beloved father died. January 06th is a very special day each year for me as I remember them both very fondly as being the most unconditionally loving souls in my life.
Today I had 8 women join me in my home, which is still decorated so lovely with all of my Christmas ornaments, trees, wreaths, Santa’s, and the Christmas village all lit up with colorful blinking lights. Today is the last day of Christmas. Most people have torn down the tree and packed up the lights by now but in my families tradition we celebrate Christmas Tide, or the 12 days of Christmas which end today.
Tomorrow is the symbolic day of the day that the wise men who followed the star, traveled so far to find the baby “laying in a manger”. The truth of the matter is that all of our nativity scenes get it wrong. The joke is on us. There were no Magi at the stable in Bethlehem bearing gifts for the baby Jesus at his birth. Historically speaking they probably did not arrive at a manger at all because Jesus would have been about 2 years old by the time they finally found Jesus.
One of the women in our group is from Italy and she told us that tonight, the night before Epiphany, is also known as a twelfth night. This is the night when the good witch known as Befana, arrives on her broomstick and brings sweets, chocolates, fresh fruit and treats to the children who have been good and coal to those who have not. Usually the children leave socks out so the Befana will fill them with the gifts. So most people in Italy are celebrating their Christmas tonight, not on December 25th like we do here in America. Interestingly enough Befana is derived from the word epifania, or the Italian name for the festival of Epiphany.
People all over the world are celebrating with good food and gifts tonight on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany. My friends in the land of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine I am sure are all celebrating with each other today, with the tall tree all lit up in Manger square near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
During these 8 weeks of Epiphany, Pastors will preach about Jesus’ childhood, and his ministry leading up to Ash Wednesday and then on into the Season of Lent. I love the word Epiphany. I love having those “ah ha” moments. As I begin this New Year, I do hope as I do my soul searching, that I might have many “ah ha” moments during this Epiphany season. May we all be gently guided by a star or an angel voice on our long journey to find our right place.
“O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light!”