Thursday, January 6, 2011

May We All Be Wise: The Feast of the Epiphany

Today we celebrate the twelfth day of Christmas feast day of the Epiphany, the day the Wise Men visit Jesus. Some of our Christian friends will spend time debating whether or not the Magi deserve a place in the Nativity story; after all, perhaps they were pagan astrologers, perhaps dabblers in the black arts. People of various stripes (including atheists) might argue the inconsistencies of the story or the outright impossibilities. Conspiracy theorists might argue about suppressed texts (for more on that, you might listen to this episode of The Diane Rehm Show, which talks about Brent Landau's book, Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men's Journey to Bethlehem).

Maybe the maleness of the story (a male King Herod, a male savior, three wise men) makes you feel left out. Go here for Jan Richardson's interesting and inspiring blog post about the wise women.

Maybe you aren't feeling quite so wise. Maybe you spent more or ate more or partied more than you should have during the Christmas season. Forgive yourself. Move on. Take a walk and tidy up the kitchen and resolve to get more sleep. Take stock of what you truly need. And perhaps, go shopping one last time, as now is the time that so many stores have great sales to get rid of the last of the merchandise. Buy Christmas stuff (cards, lights, decorations, wrapping paper) for next year while it's at a 75% discount. Buy some winter clothes--you've still got a month or two to wear them. Replace your tattered underthings. Buy a calendar with pictures that bring you joy.

You might take some time for contemplation today. Play the Christmas music one last time. Think about the tale of the Magi and the gifts they bring. What are the gifts that you bring? What are the gifts that have been given to you?

Take some time for gratitude. God showers us with so many gifts, and often we forget to say, "Thank you."

The Christmas story reminds us again and again that the greatest gift is the gift of Jesus. Our Creator comes to live with us, to show us the best way to be human. Think about the life of Jesus, and make one last resolution to adopt one of his behaviors. Be kind to the outcast. Visit the sick. Share the good news. Invite others to come and see. Practice a ministry of the table by inviting people to share a meal with you. Speak in parables--or at least tell more stories.

Most of us have already bid good-bye to Christmas and returned to our every day lives. Today is a good day to take one last Christmas moment, to recover our capacity for wonder, to delight in the miraculous, to look for the unexpected, and to rejoice in the amazing Good News of a God who loves us so much that the Divine One comes to live with us.

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