Epiphany at Epiphany
The hallway feels bereft without a festive tree, our whole house somehow dimmer without the light from its branches. The Light has not departed — rather He is now here with us, lighting up our hearts — but then why does the day feel so gray?
Taking down and putting away Christmas decorations is my least favorite part of the new year. After a season full of anticipation and celebration, it’s such a let down. Even the fresh start of a whole new year is not enough to boost the mood on the day that commercialized Christmas is finally over.
Yet, I must remind myself, on this the eve of Epiphany, that it’s not truly over. Christ has come to stay and the celebration has just begun. The anticipation can still be felt, hovering in the wings, awaiting a time of more complete fulfillment: the celebration that will be inaugurated with the second coming of King Jesus. He first came down to earth and took on humanity, born to die and rise again for our salvation. This we celebrate at Christmas. And He will come once more on that great Day when the skies open up and He comes for a second time, once for all, establishing His kingdom in the new heavens and earth. We can look forward with even greater anticipation to His final return.
For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come
and his Bride has made herself ready;”
It seems a hefty thought for the quotidian activities of re-wrapping tree lights and packing away fragile ornaments to be stored in a dark corner of the basement until next year. But it’s the most important thing we could remember, no matter what time of year or what we’re doing. The reminder of this anticipation is the heart of the Christian life. It’s the source of our earthly contentment in a world that is never satisfied (which becomes all the more clear in the post-Christmas season). It’s a truth that must not be packed away with the colorful baubles and festive adornments of a holiday gone by. It should by no means be tucked back in a dark corner for all other days of the year. The Light has come and He must shine into every corner of life!
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”John 1:9
So the weather may be a little dreary, but the house has taken on a different look. The Lord’s Day is coming, and that is well worth anticipating. What does this mean for us in the rest of the year, when the joy and promise of Christmas feels far away? Well, it’s important to remember that, while Christmas is a holiday that revolves around Jesus and a wonderful celebration of His Kingship, it is not established or commanded by God in Scripture. The only holiday (‘holy-day’) we are commanded to observe is the Lord’s Day, the Sabbath. That day of rest and renewal, and direction communion with our Lord through worship, fellowship, preaching and the Lord’s Supper, should be a holiday until itself each week. Imagine celebrating every single Sunday like Christmas! The gift we receive each week is Christ Himself, through the Word and sacraments — and for no better gift could we ask, all through the year.
I’m reminding myself of this most precious Gift today, and thankful for the Light that shines on every day because of the Son of God Who came to be with us, Emmanuel!