I have always enjoyed the twelve days of Christmas, Christmastide, stretching from Christmas Day, December 25, to Epiphany, January 6, pivoting upon our old year ending and new one beginning.
In spite of the exaggerated account of wild protestors storming the U.S. capitol on January 6, the day continues to shine light upon all the world. The wise men from the East have traveled far, just as you and I have traveled far, to worship the Son of God born to mankind on Earth.
For we have traveled from our own births, to be reborn again and again, Eucharist after Eucharist. For when we meet Christ in the liturgy of bread and wine we clean out our hearts to prepare the way just as John the Baptist did in the wilderness, crying “Repent, repent, prepare ye the way of the Lord. Repent, repent… make his paths straight.”
Much has been made of the trespassers in Washington D.C. on this fateful day, the day that they protested the election. They are labeled insurrectionists. And yet, they too, were shining a light upon what happened in the early weeks of November 2020, at least until some were urged to enter the hallowed halls of Congress, by, it appears, federal agents who have since been identified on camera footage as well as police who opened the doors.
Epiphanies are sudden realizations of truth. Characters in novels have epiphanies, moments when they are no longer blind, but can now see, can recognize what is real and what is false. The epiphanies are often plot turning points, deepening character and ennobling those who now have vision restored.
The Feast of the Epiphany is no less. It is a celebration not only of gift giving by three kings from afar to the newborn king and the recognition of his kingship, but also a celebration of the greater world seeing too, for when these three travelers fall on their knees in worship, all the peoples, races, genders, classes, nations, recognize the significance of this moment in the history of mankind.
The immortal has become mortal, and in so doing, has become God with us, Emmanuel, God within us. We need only have eyes to see. We need only have faith to recognize. We need only believe in Jesus Christ – his promises and his palaces – to become immortal as well.
His was the light of the world, and the world knew him not. But to those who received him gave he power to become sons of God.
And so we travel through the twelve days of Christmas, celebrating saints and holy names and light shining upon the world. Yesterday we celebrated his naming in the temple. It is a holy name, Jesus, our preacher reminded us today. It is a name never to be taken in vain, but to treasure and hold close to the heart. He is named and from this moment the name of Jesus will demand every head to bow, every knee to bend. At the name of Jesus we see his light, as though a beam shines into our souls. We can do no less than bow and bend. We are thankful to be able to see.
Christians become epiphanies to others. They shine light so that others may see. They love so that others may love the source of all love, the source of all light and life.
We move through Christmastide to January 6 and the light that opened the doors of Heaven to all the world. No longer is the messiah only for a chosen people. He is born into our darkness but becomes the light that will shine, illuminating truth in a world of lies.
It seems to me the protestors (for the most part) last January 6 wanted to shine a light on the election of November. It is wrong to trespass and wrong to fight the police, and this is true at all times in all situations. But I believe their intentions were ingenuous, real, and peaceful. As we know from the riots of the summer of 2020, protests can be infiltrated and can be far more violent and destructive than intended.
The true light of the world is the Prince of Peace. He shines a light into our hearts so that we can see our wrongdoings and confess and repent. We then can approach the altar and receive him into ourselves, our souls and bodies.
LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by
thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers
of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour,
Jesus Christ. Amen.
Evening Prayer, BCP 1928