Experiencing Epiphany

Experiencing Epiphany

Half the world celebrates the coming of Christ in the first week of January, what many of us know as Epiphany–the revelation of the Messiah to the Gentiles.

Our Christmas letter isn’t late. Really.

Half the world celebrates the coming of Christ in the first week of January, what many of us know as Epiphany–the revelation of the Messiah to the Gentiles. Travelers from the East came to worship the Christ Child and brought gifts. Orthodox Christians of all kinds exchange gifts at Epiphany.

Our family long has had a kind of tradition of honoring January 5 or 6 as “old Christmas.”

One year, we even got the entire family to agree to celebrate each one of the 12 days of Christmas. It was great!

From December 25 to Epiphany, the kids opened one present each day–their choice. The whole day was to admire, play with, and give thanks for one single present. Some of the presents were small, and some were . . . . well . . . smaller.

We avoided the “great rip and tear” (and rip-offs and tears) of all too many Christmas mornings. Christmas dinner preparation took pride of place December 25. The tree looked great and we got to admire beautiful packages after dinner.

Each of the twelve days, our family lighted the candles,  plugged in and admired the tree, sat down with a cup of tea and some cookies, sang a carol, shook and fondled the remaining packages, and made our choice of the day.

Calmly. Gratefully. Quietly.

After New Year’s came the easy-to-recognize practical presents–notebooks, pens, underwear, socks. We parents saved back one special gift each for a strong finish on Day 12–the day of revelation.

The Twelve Days of Christmas never were celebrated in quite the same way in our house again, of course. It was one of those noble experiments that few families with children could repeat.  And as the kids got older, fewer presents waited beneath the tree.

Our teens lost the humor of waiting with anticipation to unwrap a beautifully and individually boxed . . . . . . .  single sock, or . . . . . .  a well-matched pair of Ticonderoga #2 pencils.

Christmases come and go. Each has its own texture and rhythm. A different family seems to gather. Oh, the people are mostly the same. But we grow, or move far away, or die, or marry, or bring grandchildren.

Yet all those unique Christmases past seem to drift away into the swirling snows of memory and desire. What DID I get for Christmas the year I was 13? What did I wrap for my dad?

The still center of Christmas–the Christ child and the revelation–remains eternally the same. Neither the fevers of mall shopping, nor frustrations of failed recipes, nor fears of family infighting–whatever disturbs the stillness of awaiting revelation–none of that can tarnish the brightness of the guiding star.

Set your sights on that–the star. Follow it to Bethlehem’s manger. Worship and surrender to God your gifts and talents. And then . . . . and then . . . experience the epiphanic embrace of the revelation that is Christmas.

It’s not too late. And it doesn’t need to happen on one special day, or even in one special week or month or year. Each day is an unwrapping of a precious gift of life if we can choose it.

May you experience the birth of Christ and Epiphany,
whenever you choose to seek the star!

Liz and Doug in Łódź, PL

Doug and Elizabeth Searles serve with the Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland.  They serve as mission workers for church growth and outreach.