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Bulletin: January 2, 2022

Updated: Jan 14

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The Epiphany of the Lord


Gifts are everywhere at this time of year. Christmas gifts. Hostess gifts. Hidden gifts. Wrong-size gifts. Unexpected gifts. Unwanted gifts. Unreciprocated gifts. And in today's readings we hear about even more gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But we know intuitively (or, one hopes, eventually!) that gifts are symbols of something much deeper and less tangible. The gift of God's Son is, of course, at the heart of our Christmas festivities. We are not--and never--alone, because "God is with us." (Thus the name Emmanuel.) But wait, that's not all! The liturgy reminds us over and over that this is a "holy exchange." As Christ came to share in our humanity, we come to share in his divinity. The full significance of that mystery is a gift we have yet to unwrap completely.


WHAT KIND OF GOD IS THIS?

Christmas is a season of abundance. Christmas cookies and carols. Parties and presents. Mangers and mistletoe. The same is true in our church. Within a period of nine days we celebrate Christmas, the Holy Family, Mary Mother of God, and today the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Truly an embarrassment of liturgical riches. (And we are not finished yet!)

However, for many people, Christmas is already over. Trees litter the curbside or make their way back to the attic. Presents are put away or returned. We prepare to go back to school or work. But as Christians we have barely dipped our toes into the profound mystery of a God who walks among us. What kind of a God is this whose kingdom is not limited by our borders, fears, expectations, or imaginations? Today's psalm reminds us, "Lord, every nation on earth will adore you." Diversity and inclusion are not new to God's agenda.


TRADITIONS UNCOVER MEANING

Two traditional rituals, one liturgical and one domestic, help underline the meaning of the Epiphany. The Proclamation of the Date of Easter is an option for inclusion at Mass today. This text which formally announces the dates of the upcoming major feast days reminds us that Christmas is best honored in the context of the whole story of salvation that culminates in Easter. Or as writer Nathan Mitchell reflects, the wood of the crib becomes the wood of the cross.

The second tradition connected to Epiphany is the blessing of the door of one's home with chalk. It includes a prayer for protection for all who enter therein. One explanation of this tradition ties it to the Passover in the Book of Exodus: the marking of the doorposts with the blood of the lamb kept the Israelites safe. This tradition too offers a connection between Christmas and Easter.

As we continue to mine the richness of this season we hum along with the angels, Gloria in excelsis Deo!

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