Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas. Advent means “to long for, be in waiting” For one month we expectantly await for Christmas, reflecting on the meaning and wonder of Jesus. On December 25, Christmas day brings in twelve days of celebration ending on January 6, also known as Epiphany. A few years ago someone asked me if I celebrated Epiphany. I wasn’t sure how to answer because I didn’t have a clue what Epiphany was. I decided to do some research and found it to be fascinating. Here’s what it is in a nutshell. Epiphany is also know as “Three Kings Day” It is celebrated on January 6 (12 days after Christmas, keep that in the front of your mind) The word Epiphany means “revelation” and is linked to the visit of the wise men to the Christ child. I read alot of articles and many state that these 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany is important because it gives us tome to reflect on what Jesus means in our lives. Time to reflect, ponder, pray, praise and look forward to a new year.
I also learned about a very popular Christmas carol, The 12 Days of Christmas. This carol was written 300 or so years ago because it was against the law in England to be part of the church. The 12 Days of Christmas lyrics are actually hidden code used by parents to teach their children about God… how clever. Here is how it goes:
* “My true love” represents God
* “a partridge in a pear tree” is Jesus, who gave His life on a tree, the cross
* “Two turtle doves” symbolize the Old and New Testaments
* “Three French hens” are faith, hope and love
* “Four calling birds” are the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
* “Five golden rings” go with the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Pentateuch
* “Six geese a laying” are the six days of creation
* “Seven swans a swimming” are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 12)
* “Eight maids a milking” are the eight beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10)
* “Nine ladies dancing” are the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
* “Ten lords a leaping” are the Ten Commandments
* “Eleven pipers piping” are the eleven faithful disciples
* “Twelve drummers drumming” were the twelve points to the Apostles Creed
Isn’t that interesting. Just some fun Christmas carol history. Now that I know more about Epiphany, I will keep out our nativity until January 6 as a reminder. I have heard of families giving a gift on that day, representing the wise men and how they gave gifts to Christ. Our pastor posed this question in church this morning, What gift will you give Christ this Christmas season? What do I want to give Jesus for Christmas? It can be more time with Him, service for Him, influence to Him, deeper growth and devotion, loving others more, giving up something you have felt you should….whatever you decide, give it with you entire heart. Write it down, maybe in your bible so you can go back to it, reflecting, pondering, and praying about it. We are going to celebrate Epiphany, I see it as another fun tradition to begin, will you?