Epiphany at Saint Mark’s

What is Epiphany?

The manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The winter solstice was kept on January 6 at some places during the first centuries of the Christian Era. In opposition to pagan festivals, Christians chose this day to celebrate the various manifestations, or “epiphanies,” of Jesus’ divinity. These showings of his divinity included his birth, the coming of the Magi, his baptism, and the Wedding at Cana where he miraculously changed water into wine. The day was called “The Feast of Lights.”

The solstice was kept on December 25 by the fourth century. Jesus’ birth was celebrated on this day in both eastern and western churches. The western church commemorated the coming of the Magi on January 6. The eastern church continued to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and the Wedding at Cana on January 6. In the east the day was called “Theophany” (manifestation of God).

The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, in the BCP. The Baptism of our Lord is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Epiphany.

Glossary definition provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.

Epiphany Day Blessing of Homes

Friday, January 6

There is an old practice of blessing homes at Epiphany and chalking the top of the door to remind us that everyone who comes in brings the light of Christ with them and that as we go out into the world, we carry the light of Christ with us.

Pastor Vicki will come to your home and lead the short prayers of blessing and mark the lintel over the front door of your home with chalk on Epiphany Day.

The writing over the door is traditionally the year and the initials C, M, and B in memory of the traditional names of the three Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) who visited Jesus bringing gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh. It also represents the Latin blessing Christus mansionem benedicat (‘May Christ bless this house’). The initials are flanked on either side with the year and looks like this:

20 + C + M + B + 23

If you would like carry out your own Epiphany House blessing, you can find a form for special prayers here or in the arched bookcase in the parish hall.

Sunday Worship Services – The Baptism of Our Lord

Sunday, January 8 at 8 and 10:30 a.m.

Reflections on Worship

The celebration of Jesus’ birth and his manifestation as the Son of God comes in a pair of seasons with common characteristics. These seasons have been particularly popular in western Christendom and were, in the past, times of such levity and rejoicing that puritans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries sought to do away with them. In the last century, when the puritan influence had waned, Christmas became popular in this country again, but by then churches had all but lost their memory of the old feast. As a result, Epiphany season and the intervening Twelve Days of Christmas were not part of the secular celebration. A host of new secular customs and legends developed during Advent primarily as a means of supporting business. We need to recover our own special heritage if we are to make Christmas and Epiphany central to our faith again.

On Epiphany, the theme is the manifestation, or showing forth, of Christ to the Gentiles in the account of the Wise Men. Light is the primary symbol, with the Star of Bethlehem as the sign that Christ, the light of the world, has come. On the following Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of Christ. This is one of the four days of the year which the Book of Common Prayer designates as baptismal days. (The other three are Easter, Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day.) Even if there is no one to be baptized that day, we reaffirm our Baptismal Covenant as we rejoice that Christ, who was manifested as son of God in his Baptism, is now made manifest in us, his church, through our baptism.

In the weeks after Epiphany, other events in Jesus’ ministry are celebrated, events such as his first miracle, changing water into wine; his first healing; his calling of the disciples; his first preaching. These events reveal him as God’s Son and help us explore more deeply the unlimited extent of his love and our role–as members of his Body–in revealing him to the world.

From The Right Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.

A Service of Light in the Taizé Tradition

Sunday, January 8 at 5 p.m.

Saint Mark’s will present a special evening service with music from the Taizé (pronouced taa-zay‘) tradition. The language and order of the service is in the style of worship that is distinctive to the ecumenical monastery community of Taizé in the Burgundy region of France.

The music consists of short, repeated melodies that are led by a cantor and instrument(s) and sung by everyone. The melodies are easy to learn, and repetition provides a frame for meditation on the divine. Taizé services also include an important visual element, with the presence of one or more icons illuminated by numerous candles.

The event is free and all are welcome to attend in person or via livestream.

Newcomers’ Celebration

Sunday, January 22 at Noon

A special extended coffee hour after the 10:30 a.m. worship service to welcome Saint Marks’ newcomers. The event will feature a campus-wide scavenger hunt, good food, fun, and great fellowship.

All are welcome!