1 (capitalized): January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi.
2 a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
I was raised in the Episcopalian church – which may mean many things to some, but to me as a child, it meant love, family and celebration with large doses of spiritual learning, a deep and abiding sense of safety, lots of music, fellowship, and food (always shared!). I have dozens of stories hidden beneath my old alter robes of the Episcopalians I have known and loved, but for the sake of brevity, and because the sun is setting on this twelfth day of Christmas, I’ll offer a snapshot of what this day was for me as a little girl at Trinity Church in Ashland, Oregon. Today was (and is) Epiphany.
I like wikipedia’s explanation of an Epiphany “An epiphany is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally follow a process of significant thought about a problem. Often they are triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding.” Wiki goes on to include in its religious portion “In Christianity, the Epiphany refers to a realization that Christ is the son of God. Western churches generally celebrate the Visit of the Magi as the revelation of the Incarnation of the infant Christ, and commemorate the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.
And that’s what I remember. My parents would gather us up late in the afternoon and the local Episcopalians would team up with the Congregationalists. We would start at “their church” with a joyous service of prayer and stories about how those darned traveling kings and shepherds and folks from far afield finally found the wee bairn. And then, we would bundle up and march through town singing and laughing as we reenacted the travelers of long ago. A few blocks later, we’d land in the Trinity sanctuary where we would finish our prayers and get on to a wonderful evening of feasting and dancing in the parish hall. For a kid at church, Epiphany was a guaranteed good times, and while the rest of the world may have left Christmas behind on the morning of the 26th, January 6th was a reminder to me that the season is more than a day – and the meanings and symbolism of this sacred time run much much deeper than we give it credit for.
Of late, I am aware that my little family is highly capable of joy. I don’t mean that we’re all fluffed out with pollyanna trappings and never have bad days or bad attitudes or say/do/think/fall down into the muck of anger or negativity. We do. Oh Lordy, we sure do all that – and much more. But what I am realizing is this: we are most capable of being in joy AND
it’s not too hard to access it when we need it AND
it’s far more fun than the alternatives AND
– why not?
I have no travels to take this evening, or blessed children to discover under the glow of angel’s light. I’ve little to offer in the way of treasure or enlightened voice. It’s okay because right now….choosing Joy is enough. Such is my simple and striking Epiphany for this January 6th.
Thanks Martha..Much enjoyed. I was so warmed to hear that Trinity felt like a warm, safe, happy place to be. I do the Wed. Eucharist at Trinity Portland tonight and think I will share this as a brief homily.
My epiphany: In the midst of the tangles and turmoils of each day, with all the anger and angst they can occasion, I can choose “Alleluia Anyway” to put things in perspective. It is a choice which for me leads to a lot more laughter and thanksgivings.
Love you, Joe
“Alleluia Anyway!” Yes, I like that choice. It seems a perfect back up when the other prayer you have taught me “All will be well” is harder to hold in the palm of my hand.
I’m honored that my memories of so much community joy might be shared with your Portland friends. What a gift!
Loving you back, M
Laura and I made the front page of the Daily Tidings on our trek from the Congregational Church to Trinity one Epiphany. I remember many great times in that parish hall dancing, eating and enjoying. You captured the feeling in this piece.
Beth! How lovely to hear from you. I don’t remember the front page photo, but I do remember the incredible joy we all shared. I live just around the corner from the Congregational Church now, so it’s rare for me to stroll past without thinking of the old days. Hope you are well and happy.