‘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 Ninth Day of Christmas

Last year at Easter Matt and I learnt that a season of celebration is always going to be interrupted by sorrow and trauma. The season of Advent might be over, but the principles of Advent are still true: Christmas has come but we are still waiting for Jesus to come back! By the ninth day into Christmas celebrating you might have learnt this lesson too. Your celebrations might have been interrupted by sickness, maybe family struggles, maybe all kinds of difficult things. It’s impossible for a season of celebration to be untouched by the sin and corruption that still exists in ourselves and in the world. Today’s collection of resources kind of captures the sadness intermingled with Christmas joy.

Read Isaiah’s prophecy about the end of death and tears. Read T.S. Eliot’s whimsical rememberings of childhood Christmases and Jamie Harrison Dunk’s poem about the dark history of southern hemisphere Christmases. Make bittersweet lavender and citrus cordial. Listen to The Oh Hello’s suite of mashed-up Christmas carols circling from O Come O Come Emmanuel, through the darkness of the massacre of infants in the Coventry Carol through to the explosive rejoicing of Joy to the World and back to the beginning again. Dance with all your might to the joyful strains of the banjo.