Happy Ninth Day of Christmas!
…and Happy New Year to you as well.
The Robbie Burns Supper is quickly approaching! Wednesday, January 25th, 6pm (doors open) at St. George’s in Echo Bay (159 Church St.). Tickets are just $20 per person for a hearty Scottish meal including dessert, punch, coffee, tea, and live Scottish tunes! You can email me for tickets (email@example.com).
A Liturgical Note for You
What is a Christmas Feria?: Each day on the calendar that is not assigned a feast, memorial, or commemoration is called a ferial day. Right now each of these days is a “Christmas Feria”. The Holy Day of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season and the creche is removed from the church after the liturgy is finished. After that, the colour becomes green for Ordinary Time and we mark each Sunday as a “Sunday After the Epiphany” until the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday.
More on The Epiphany: The Epiphany is one of seven Principal Feasts of our Church and it has a fixed date on the calendar (as does Christmas). We would never celebrate Christmas on the Sunday before and then ignore it on the actual day so why do we do this to the other Principal Feasts with fixed dates? The answer is easy…the world values Christmas because it has become a consumer-driven holiday and has taken on meaning beyond that of Scripture. The other Principal Feasts pale in comparison to the magnitude of Christmas celebrations in our society. However, if we would like to send the message to the world around us that our Christian worship is important and worth attending amid the other busyness of life then we must show to the world that it actually is important by allowing the rhythms of the Christian calendar to take precedence over the secular calendar. To assist with sending this crucial message, a Zoom service for the Epiphany is being offered this Friday at 7pm. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to email the Zoom invitation to you.
According to the instructions in the BAS (and the McCausland’s), Epiphany is always celebrated on January 6th. If the Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday before, then this Sunday celebration is in addition to the celebration on Jan.6th. By the way, the Epiphany is never celebrated on the Sunday after Jan.6 even if that’s closer to the Epiphany than the Sunday before. The Sunday after the Epiphany is always The Baptism of the Lord.
Epiphany House Blessings: Traditionally chalk is blessed at this service to be used to bless homes by chalking a blessing above the main door of worshipers’ homes. If you’re interested in learning more, the Diocese of Montreal provides a “do it yourself” blessing leaflet at www.montrealcathedral.ca/2016/01/epiphany-prayer-for-home-blessing-chalking-the-door
Just so you’re not confused by seeing older numbers on their website, what we would write this year, for 2023, would be 20 + C + M + B + 23. (The + is a cross and the letters stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat. This means Christ Bless this House).
For Your Devotions:
Monday, January 2nd is the memorial of Basil the Great (379 AD) and Gregory of Nazianzus (389 AD), Bishops and two of the famous Cappadocian Fathers. Basil and Gregory were best friends in the 4th century and were extremely important figures in defending the orthodox faith against various heresies, especially Arianism (the belief that Jesus was semi-divine, a lesser being created by God). Along with Athanasius, these men were also crucial in establishing the place of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity – that the Holy Spirit was, in fact, God. Without the efforts of these men, it is quite possible that we would not hold our Trinitarian beliefs today. For more info: https://www.dominicanajournal.org/basil-gregory-and-the-holy-spirit/
Friday, January 6th is the Principal Feast of The Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany is the day we commemorate the manifestation of Christ to the “wise men” (i.e. they saw a strange star in the night sky signifying the birth of the king of the Jews and were drawn to worship him). Their learning about nature enabled them to respond to the divine revelation of Christ. Paul talks about God being revealed in creation (Rom.1:20) and chastises gentiles who do not respond. The “wise men” show us that there is hope “For it means that no truth or wisdom in the created order is contrary to the revelation of God in Christ.” The wise men also show to us that God is working to fulfill God’s purpose – drawing all of the nations together to be reconciled in Christ. To read more, go to p.42 of For All the Saints: http://c2892002f453b41e8581-48246336d122ce2b0bccb7a98e224e96.r74.cf2.rackcdn.com/ForAlltheSaints.pdf
Sunday, January 8 is the Holy Day of The Baptism of the Lord and marks the end of the time called “Christmastide”. This event was originally celebrated on the same day as the Epiphany. In fact, in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Jesus’ baptism remains the integral part of their celebration on January 6th called the Great Feast of the Theophany. Why is it such a big deal? This feast reveals the Holy Trinity to the world…God the Father spoke from Heaven about the Son, the Son was baptized by Saint John the Forerunner, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of a dove. And, Jesus’ baptism holds great significance for us as his disciples. Perhaps you have noticed that the prayers of the people in the BAS for Christmas (the Litany for the Incarnation on page 120) contains the story arc for our salvation in Christ Jesus beginning with the announcement to Mary and ending with Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan. Then we pray for God’s kingdom to become the kingdom on earth. Like the prayers for Advent, there is transformational theology present in our prayers. Part of our ongoing transformation into the likeness of Christ happens when we pray these prayers together throughout the Christmas season so let us not be quick to discard them as “boring”. Remember, petitions can be added to the prayers in the BAS. Here is what the Russian Orthodox church has to say about baptism: “It was the will of God that all who wished to become members of the grace-filled Messianic Kingdom should be baptized. Baptism took on the meaning of a “door” into the Kingdom of God. As the progenitor of the new mankind that was restored by Him, Jesus Christ was due to enter first into the Kingdom which He was establishing, to open the way to salvation for people, and to teach them to fulfill the will of God. Simultaneously, the Saviour’s immersion in water at the moment of His baptism also had the aim to sanctify baptism, to turn this symbolic rite into a grace-filled, restorative Christian sacrament.” To read more: http://www.holy-transfiguration.org/library_en/lord_xmas_bapt.html
Whew…that was a lot today. Time to call it quits.
With Christmas joy,