This evening, The Eve (of the Eve) of Epiphany, members of our parish gathered for a festive celebration including a spaghetti dinner, Epiphany carols, and king cake (of course!). Holy Family’s parish hall was decked out in symbols of the season. Wooden statues of the three Magi from our parish creche reminded us of the travelers who sought a king at the beckoning of a star. Candles signified the growing light of Christ. Chalk (which would later be blessed and sent out into the world along with our parish families) reminded us that our homes are places of blessing, hospitality, and witness to the light of Christ.
In a dramatic reading of T.S. Eliot’s, The Journey of the Magi we were confronted with the questions of what Christ’s birth means and what difference it makes for the world. Eliot offers a conflicted picture of the Magi’s own encounter with Jesus, at once hopeful and full of doubt and uncertainty. Eliot writes:
There was a birth, certainly. We had evidence and no doubts.
A few lines later:
This birth was hard and bitter agony for us, like death, our death.
Our reader suggested that Epiphany may in fact remind us not just of death, but of the new life we receive in Christ. This encounter with Christ, like our baptism, is not only death, but life and new birth.
In Matthew’s account of the Magi’s journey, we catch the first glimpse of Christ’s identity, a strong theme in Epiphanytide. Christ’s identity in this story was most succinctly summed up by our Rector in his presentation about the gifts of the Magi: Jesus is given gold because he is a king; frankincense because he is a priest, and myrrh because he is going to die.
Overall, the night was wonderful and we couldn’t have had more fun if we tried.
Stay tuned this season. Next week, after we hear the story of the baptism of Jesus, look out for several “faith formation at home” posts on exploring and remembering baptism with your children.