Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Welcome the Light!

January 6 -- The 12 Days of Christmas officially ended yesterday.  Now, most of us in this century have left Christmas behind long ago (or so it seems),  around the 26th or 27th of December.  So what's with these 12 days?  Well, in the Medieval Church calendar (back when there was only one church in most of Europe--the Roman Catholic Church--and by the way "catholic" merely means "universal")  the Christmas Season began on Dec. 25 and extended through Jan.5.

In fact, Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night" was written for a celebration of the last day of Christmas.  In our modern world, we can't take 12 full days for Christmas (usually).  Another story I've heard is that as long as the Yule Log burned, the masters had to serve their servants, in observance of Christmas (the way Jesus came to be a servant, right?).  No wonder they went out and got the hugest log they could find!  The longer it burned, the longer the celebration--and service from the master!

So now what?  Well, Jan.6 marks the beginning of The Feast of the Epiphany.  What does that big word mean, you ask?  Well, it's like an enlightenment or a revelation.  Remember the old cartoons of a person with a light bulb over their head, showing they had a idea?  That's an epiphany.  And so, this feast on Jan. 6 marks when the Magi came to worship the Christ Child.  They had "seen the light" of His star in the east!  (By the way, in some countries, like Spain, children had to wait until Jan 6, The Feast of the Epiphany, to open their presents!)

Throughout the 6 weeks of the Epiphany Season (which ends at Ash Wednesday, by the way--more to come on that later...), the Bible lessons traditionally focus on ways we "see the light" of the promised Messiah in Jesus.  For example, when he turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana, Galilee; or when his true glory was revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration; or when he was baptized in the Jordan River, and the Holy Spirit came.  About 10 years ago, the Pope also added the "Luminous Mysteries" to the Rosary, and these are all related to the scripture lessons on Ephiphany.

I love the idea of the Light of the World coming during the darkest time of our year.  I know it's summer in the soutehrn hemisphere, but face it, most of us live in the northern hemisphere.  And if there are others out there like me, we need all the light we can get this time of year.  So Happy Epiphany! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Ultimate Promise

Well, another year has come and gone.  2016 is dawning with a lot of fear and despair in the world.  The so-called leaders of the world and the potential leaders leave much to be desired.  It's enough to make you wonder how much longer the Lord will tarry.

2015 has been better for me healthwise, especially emotionally. But unfortunately it ended with the worst migraine of the year, and said headche is still with me here on New Year's Day.  Hard not to be discouraged.

I was thinking of telling more stories about smoked geese and swans, and milking cows, the maids having been replaced by milking machines.  But decided against it. Still, the true 12 days of Christmas aren't over, so I hesitate to take the tree down.  Besides I have a headache...

At our church's New Year's Eve service last night, the sermon reminded us that there is one promise that is guaranteed to come true.  It's from Romans 8 - If God is for us, no one can stand against us...and nothing in all the universe can separate us from the love of Christ.  A love so far above all others that it meant God sacrificing his own beloved Son for the sins and follies of this fallen world.

Some days, it's hard to feel that love, especially when we're in physical pain or mental anguish, but it's still there.  I think that the times we can 'feel' it the least are also the times when it is strongest, holding us up--even when we may not realize it.  New Year's is a good day to remember that.