When one speaks the word Christmas, most people inevitably imagine a single day of robust celebration. When one speaks the word Epiphany, at least in circles of people connected with the church, many people imagine a season stretching from Christmas until Lent begins.
Interestingly, by Evangelical Lutheran Worship and by the calendars of most Western Christians, Christmas is a season and Epiphany a day, and not the other way around. Christmas is twelve full days, if you will, a day for each month of the year, and the feast of Epiphany brings the Christmas season to a festal close.
Certainly, in the Time after Epiphany we are experiencing epiphanies; that is, God in Christ is revealed to us in the flesh and personhood of Jesus. And, it must be said, observing the Epiphany of Our Lord as a major day does help bridge the church in the West with the church in the East. Understanding the calendar in this way will help make sense of our current lectionary and its wisdom.
For now, it is Christmas, still. Even though much of our culture has finished its festival of consumerism and consumption, towns offer Christmas tree recycling now, and we pack up “Christmas” before the New Year begins.
Please consider yourselves encouraged to keep your homes awash with the light of your Christmas trees, your walkways and doorways illumined, and your tables brightened with candles through Epiphany on January 6th. Keeping the same celebration timeline at home and at church helps us all remember that Christmas is a season, not a day.
Excerpts and inspiration from “Sundays and Seasons”