‘Why is the tree still up?’
‘Because it’s bad luck to take it down until Epiphany.’ 
‘What’s Epiphany?’
‘It’s the end of Christmas.’

This conversation, or something like it, happened every Christmas in my early childhood. Our tree would sit in the living room for twelve extra days after Christmas, the wreath stayed on the door, the cards stayed hanging on the walls. It was strange quirk for my very non-religious parents to be such sticklers for this one old school church tradition.

Today I’m much more of the opinion that Epiphany is celebrated not really to protect us from bad luck but to help us transition from Christmas to the rest of the year; reshifting our gaze from our intense focus on the incarnation up to see the whole glorious person of Jesus and everything he did. At Epiphany we mark the day that the wise men came from distant lands to worship Jesus. They had come a long way, travelling for up to two years; now they have finally caught up with the Christmas story and we meet them as our own Christmas celebrations draw to a close.

The wise men read the stars and somehow knew more about Jesus’ identity than the Jews that Jesus was to be king of. Epiphany picks up on this theme of stars and light and illumination, of seeing the truth and knowing the truth and worshipping the truth. Epiphany is the day that says “YES!” to all the good news of the Christmas story. It’s the day that gives us space to join the dots and knit the pieces together, to see who Jesus really and truly is. It’s the day for seeing all the ways that Christmas shows us Jesus’ humanity and divinity. It’s the day for seeing all the ways that Jesus’ birth foreshadows his death and resurrection.

Scripture Matthew 2 Sermon Stott Prayer Epiphany Poetry Eliot 1 Poetry Duncan Andrews Music Handel Make Origami Prayer Hymn for Theophany

It’s the day for moving back into ordinary time.

May God bless you this year with a deep love for and knowledge of his Son. Thank you for celebrating with us.

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Today’s post features a distinct patristic flavour. The second century bishop Irenaeus is widely regarded as the first Christian theologian following the apostolic era. Drawing on Paul’s image in Ephesians of all things being summed up in Christ, described in today’s reading as the first born of creation and new creation, Irenaeus argued for a unified vision of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, who in the Incarnation sums up in himself the entire history of salvation, humanity and all creation: “He, as the eternal King, recapitulates all things in himself”. Where Adam failed, Jesus obeyed with trust and humility. This theme is continued in the Byzantine Hymn of the Only-Begotten Son, credited to the fourth century Alexandrian bishop Athanasius: the Word of God became flesh to renew the bearers of God’s image. Of course, this isn’t a peculiarity of the early church; it is the theological foundation of Christmas, the basis of our salvation.

As we reach the mid-way point of the Christmas season, we offer you these ancient and modern reflections on the incarnation of God the Son so that we might become sons of God.

     Poetry Jessica Noelle

Making an Advent Wreath

Wreath 11

Each year households around the world prepare wreaths for Advent. Some people fill their wreath with candles to light week by week; others hang them around their home. Our usual custom is to mark time during advent with a calendar rather than a wreath and candles, so we use our wreath to adorn our door in the lead up to Christmas.

Freshly made wreaths don’t seem to be very popular in Sydney. It makes sense in this climate. Keeping a floral arrangement out of water in the early summer heat, even for a couple of hours, leads to tragically quick wilting. However it’s an aesthetic we’ve decided to embrace as sign of this season of waiting. Flowers are beautiful but their glory is fleeting. We are waiting for the time that the Lord will return and free us from slavery to sin and death.

The grass withers, the flower fades;
   but the word of our God will stand for ever.
Isaiah 40:8

So for the last couple of years we’ve been making wreaths out of hardy Australian natives. They look beautiful freshly picked, and… well, less beautiful but still kind of OK a month later when we walk through the door on Christmas Eve.

Come with us on our wreath-making adventure this year and learn how to make your own.

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