Monday, January 10, 2011


During the sermon on Sunday, JY3 mentioned that this was Epiphany week. I remember thinking, awesome...what's Epiphany week? Which brings me back to something I often think about. 1) I need to get better versed in global geography. 2) I need to get a better understand of how our national government runs, and 3) I need to learn about the Church Calendar, and whether any of it matters any more.

For example...what is ordinary time? Yea, I don't know either. But I'm going to figure it out and blog about it tomorrow night.

I know that advent is the time of expectant waiting leading up to the birth of Jesus. Lent is the time leading up to Easter. I even recently got a grip on the whole Ash Wednesday/Maundy Thursday thing. But I feel like the church needs to do a better job explaining these things. Maybe I wasn't raised right, or I slept through confirmation...but I don't remember anyone ever telling me what Epiphany Week was growing up.

And then I look it up on Wiki, and it goes back to the 4th century and is the 3rd most important feast in the Eastern Orthodox faiths, behind Easter and Pentecost. That's kind of a big deal! (And what's up with the whole feast thing? I think it's a carry over from the old testament days, but maybe I'll save the feast post for Wednesday.)

Here's what I found out about Epiphany:

The observance had its origins in the Eastern Christian Churches and was a general celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It included the commemoration of his birth; the visit of the Magi ("Wise Men", as Magi were Persian priests) to Bethlehem; all of Jesus's childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee. It seems fairly clear that the Baptism was the primary event being commemorated. (Christ's birth is only found in two of the gospels, but his Baptism by John is covered in all four.)

Epiphany is celebrated by both the Eastern and Western Churches, but a major difference between them is precisely which events the feast commemorates. For Western Christians, the feast primarily commemorates the coming of the Magi; Eastern churches celebrate the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan. In both traditions, the essence of the feast is the same: the manifestation of Christ to the world (whether as an infant or in the Jordan), and the Mystery of the Incarnation.

Even before the year 354, the Western Church had separated the celebration of the Nativity of Christ as the feast of Christmas and set its date as December 25; it reserved January 6 as a commemoration of the manifestation of Christ, especially to the Magi, but also at his baptism and at the wedding feast of Cana.

Prior to 1976, the Anglican churches also observed an eight-day feast. Today the Epiphany is classified as a Principal Feast and is observed on January 6 or on the Sunday between January 2 and 8. There is also an Epiphany season, observed between the season of Christmas and the first period of Ordinary Time. It begins at Evening Prayer on the Eve of the Epiphany, and ends at Evening Prayer (or Night Prayer) on the Feast of the Presentation (which may be celebrated on February 2 or on the Sunday between January 28 and February 3).

I wonder why the Church stopped observing an eight day feast? Id like to make these kind of things more a part of my faith. I want to live out my faith, and not knowing anything about this kind of stuff can be frustrating. But also kind of exciting too. I'm going to learn more and make the Church calendar a focus of my posts this week.

Much love all. Jess

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