It’s New Year’s Day. That means that most of us are going to take down the trees and the lights and the dancing snowmen (that should all be destroyed anyway). We’re going to start depriving ourselves of food and rest, pushing our bodies into new activities, despite the fact that we are still in the cradle of darkness. Come January 2 “The Holidays” are over for the secular world.
In the Christian church, however, those 12 days of Christmas _start_ with the celebration of His birth and last until January 6. That day is Epiphany. We all know the Christmas Story, where the angels tell the Shepherd that Jesus has been born in a house in Bethlehem and laid in the livestock’s food dish. That was when Jesus appeared to the Jewish people. That crowded house in Bethlehem, full of Joseph’s distant relatives, was there to watch this unwed teenage virgin give birth to a child. And they were there to attest to the fact that she WAS a virgin when Jesus was born. That is the fulfillment of prophecy of Jesus being born of the line of David. Epiphany is when the Magician Philosophers from other lands showed up with the significant gifts acknowledging that this child was a King, a Priest and a Sacrifice.
Christmas Day is the culmination of the prophecies of the Messiah’s lineage and advent.
Epiphany is the commencement of the prophecies of the Messiah coming to all nations, Gentile as well as Israel.
The party is just getting started on Christmas. And it doesn’t seem like a lot of fun to continue to observe a celebration once the gifts are given and the food is abjured. But if we are commemorating the Christ Child we miss half the story by putting away the lights before the tale is fully told.
We who are Christians have much more to honour than a birthday. We have a life of the King and Priest who is our Ultimate Sacrifice to celebrate, to honour, to rejoice.