By Ruth DuCharme
On Sunday, January 6, we celebrated Epiphany. On this day we processed the three wise men to the crèche in the front of our sanctuary. We thought about the star that the wise men followed, and we remembered the gifts that they brought to the Christ child. Following that day, we have probably thought very little about Epiphany, but Epiphany is more than one day - it is a season. It begins on January 6 and ends just before Lent.
The word Epiphany comes from the Greek word for "manifestation," or "to appear," or "to show forth." So what does this season mean for us? How can we find meaning in this under-celebrated season of the church year? Epiphany is a season of following the star, presenting gifts, and offering hospitality. We can celebrate Epiphany as we seek to do these things in our own lives.
The star is a symbol of light. Jesus is the light of the world and calls us to be lights in the world. During these days of Epiphany, we should consider ways that we can get our lights out from underneath those bushels that prevent us from shining. We can engage ourselves in activities that show forth Christ's light to the world. We can find ways to engage ourselves in service and ministry. Epiphany is a time to be inspired to share light by visiting a shut-in, helping with a local service organization, volunteering to serve in a new way within our church, or befriending someone that you don't know very well.
I recently learned about an old tradition of chalking doors during Epiphany. The tradition dates back to the middle ages when people marked up their doorposts with the letters C+M+B surrounded by the current year's date. Meaning that if we were to mark doors today it would look like this: 20+C+M+B+13. It looks a bit like an algebraic equation, but the CMB simply represents the three wise men known as -- Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. It also stands for the Latin prayer, Christus mansionem benedicat -- "may Christ bless this house."
I thought that this tradition was a beautiful outward symbol of a family's desire to share Epiphany with its neighbors. Maybe we should bring back this tradition, or maybe we should light a candle in our homes to remind us of the light of Christ that we are meant to share. Epiphany calls us to see things in a new way. It calls us to bring light to dark places and to present our gifts in service to God. I hope that you will find a way to celebrate Epiphany in your own lives and homes as we journey through this season.