Epiphany January 6 to February 12

Season of Epiphany Jan. 6 to February 12

Next to Easter, Epiphany is the oldest season of the church year. In Asia Minor and Egypt, Epiphany was observed as early as the 2nd century. The Festival of the Epiphany fell and still falls on January 6. It was observed as a unitive festival – both the birth and baptism of Jesus were celebrated at this time.

January 6 was chosen as Epiphany Day because it was the winter solstice, a festival celebrating the birthday of the sun-god. In 331 B.C. the solstice was moved to December 25, but January 6 continued to be observed. Christians substituted Epiphany for the solstice. The emphasis was upon the rebirth of light. In keeping with the theme, the first Lesson for Epiphany Day is appropriate: “Arise, shine; for your light has come.”

The unitive festival of Epiphany was divided when December 25 was chosen as the birthday of Jesus. The church in the East continued to celebrate Epiphany in terms of the baptism of Jesus while the Western church associated Epiphany with the visit of the Magi. For the East the baptism of Jesus was more vital because of the Gnostic heresy claiming that only at his baptism did Jesus become the Son of God. On the other hand, to associate Epiphany with the Magi is appropriate, for the Magi did not get to Bethlehem for a year after Jesus' birth. By this time the holy family was in a house rather than in a stable. Consequently, the Magi could not have been a part of the manger scene as is popularly portrayed in today's Christmas scenes and plays. The new lectionary and calendar combine the two by placing the visit of the Magi on Epiphany Day and the Baptism of Jesus on Epiphany 1.

The name “Epiphany” means “Manifestation.” The light manifests itself in the darkness, God reveals himself in Jesus, and the glory of God is seen in Jesus.

Epiphany is also a season of worship because it deals with the glory of God manifested in Jesus. The season begins with the Wise Men's coming to worship the new-born King. The season ends with the worship experience on the mountain of Transfiguration. When people see Jesus as God's Son, they instinctively fall down to worship him as Lord.
May this holy season of Epiphany be for each of us a time of moving beyond grasping tight to what we have. To unclenching our hands and letting go. Following the Light where it leads; Moving beyond competition toward cooperation. Seeing that all humans are sisters and brothers. Moving beyond the anxiety of small concerns Towards the joys of justice and peace. May the transforming acceptance of Mary and Joseph, The imagination of the shepherds, And the persistence of the magi and the skilled and steady hands of the midwives, Guide us as we seek the Truth, Always moving toward the Divine promise. Always aware God can be hidden in the frailest among us. Always open to the unexpected flash of Grace, to the showing forth of that Love that embraces us all. Amen

3 King’s Cake recipe:
2 packages dry yeast;  1/3 cup warm water;  1/2 cup sugar (divided, 1/3 cup plus remaining amount, 2 Tbsp.); 1 stick butter; 2/3 cup evaporated milk; 2 teaspoons salt; 4 eggs; 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind; 2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind; 5 cups flour plus 1 cup for kneading surface

Melt 1 stick butter, milk, 1/3 cup sugar and salt in a saucepan. Cool to lukewarm. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast and water in a large mixing bowl. Let stand until it foams (5-10 minutes). Beat eggs into yeast mixture, then add milk mixture and lemon and orange rinds. Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, reserving 1 cup for the kneading surface. Knead dough until smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Place in large mixing bowl that has been greased. Turn dough once to grease top; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Filling: 1/2 cup chopped pecans 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 3 plastic trinkets or 3 dry red beans 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 Tablespoon cinnamon 1 stick butter, melted
Topping: Either 1 egg beaten or Confectioner's Sugar Icing (see below) Then 1/3 cup each colored sugar of purple, yellow and green

For filling, mix pecans, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

For topping, tint sugar by mixing in food coloring When dough has doubled, punch down and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll half into a rectangle 30 x 15 inches (this takes a long time for me, and the dough gets to be very thin). Brush with half of the melted butter and cut into 3 lengthwise strips. Sprinkle half of sugar mixture and pecans on strips, leaving a 1-inch lengthwise strip free for sealing. Fold each strip lengthwise toward the center, sealing the seam. You will now have three 30-inch strips with sugar and nut mixture enclosed in each. Braid the 3 strips and make a circle by joining the ends. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Decorate a St. Francis Tree ….. Don’t forget about your feathered friends this winter! A wonderful Epiphany project for you, the Sunday school, or your family: after the Christmas tree comes down, why not enjoy a long lasting St. Francis tree!!! A welcome treat for outside feathered friends (and a few squirrels and chipmunks too}

This tree can have small white lights but is more natural-looking with garlands of strung popcorn and cranberries, peanut butter balls rolled in seed, suet cakes, seed bells, orange and apple slices, and pinecones stuffed with suet. Balls and cut fruit may be tied onto the tree with raffia strands which birds will later carry off as nesting materials.
A large spot light may also be used instead of strung mini white lights. Inexpensive garden statues of St. Francis can usually be found in most garden shops, online, and make a great addition to the treescape. Don’t forget a water supply for the birds in the form of a birdbath or basin. The tree may be left up after Christmas and replenished throughout the cold winter months.

When I want to make bird seed ornaments I pull out a glass mixing bowl, and place a suet cake in the bowl. Then I pop it in the microwave for 20 second intervals.. When the suet cake is all melted, I add a half a jar of peanut butter. I use non-hydrogenated. I like to make a few pine cone ornaments while I’m making bird seed ornaments. I add a little bird seed to the mixture, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Then I dip the pine cones in. The pine cones should come out with a layer of the seeds, suet and peanut butter mixture.
You can also add dried fruit, cranberries, chunks of apples, nuts, or popcorn to the ornament mixture. The next step is the messy part. Grab a small handful of the mixture, and a string. Lay the string on top of the mixture in your hand, then add another small handful on top. Work the mixture with your hands to form a ball with the sting in the center. When you are happy with the shape lay the ornament aside on a cookie sheet, or sheet of aluminum foil to cool and dry. Once the ornaments are cooled hang them on the nearest tree for all your feathered friends to enjoy. You can also add a decorative ribbon to the ornaments and give a collection of them to your nature, or garden loving friends for Christmas.

What Is a Chalking the Door Service? 
This short liturgy is a way of marking or hallowing our dwelling places, usually at the front or main entrance, with sacred signs and symbols as we ask God's blessing upon those who worship, live, work, or visit throughout the coming year. In Exodus, the Israelites marked their doors with blood so that the Lord would pass over their homes; but in this service, we mark our doors with chalk as a sign that we have invited God's presence and blessing into our family homes and spiritual home, the church.

The parish priest may bless the chalk, giving out to any who wish to mark their homes.  Many households mark their entrance door lintels with the Cross of salvation, the year and the inscription CMB, (the initial Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the names of the three magi not recorded in scripture but found in 9th century records). The inscription also stands for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means "Christ, bless this home." The inscription for this year would be 20+C+M+B+14. It remains above the doorway until Pentecost or if the outside door, until the elements wash it away. The symbols are usually written on the upper horizontal piece of the door frame of the front entrance to a church, home, or room; but if younger children or people in wheelchairs participate, they are encouraged to place the symbols anywhere on the door frame they can comfortably reach.  Below is a simple liturgy you can say at home.

A Blessing of the Home For Your Personal Use
The Lord is with you;

C.:  And also with you. 

All: Peace be to this house and to all who live, work, and visit here.
One or all of the readings that follow may be said:
A reading from Proverbs: "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."

A reading from Isaiah: "The effect of righteousness is peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and quiet places."

A second reading from the prophet Isaiah 60:1-6:  Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lord God of Heaven and Earth, as a shining star once guided the magi to the birthplace of your Son,  guide  us to be your light in the world.  Your first earthly home was a stable.  Bless our home and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their love for others may truly reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Different family members are now invited to mark the doorway with the chalk symbols: 20+C+M+B+13, and then join hands continuing …
L: O God of Light, bless this (our) home and this (our) family. May this be a place of peace and health. May each member of this family cultivate the gifts and graces you have bestowed, dedicating our talents and works for the good of all.

L: Make this home a shelter in the storm and a haven of rest for all in need of your warmth and care. And when we go out from this place, may we never lose sight of that Epiphany star.

C: As we go about our work, our study, our play, keep us in its light and in your love.

L: May we, in this house, and all who come to visit, to work, and to play, remember these things throughout the coming year. May all who come and go here find peace, comfort, joy, hope, love, and salvation, for Christ has come to dwell in this house and in these hearts.

C: Our Father...  
L:  May the Lord watch over our going out and our coming in, from this time forth and forevermore. ?
All: May we be Christ's light in the world. Amen