• Fr Lee Nelson

Introducing Epiphany



“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

1 John 1:1–3 ESV

Having celebrated the Nativity of Jesus Christ, we now move into the season of Epiphany. The word "epiphany" comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation.” Epiphany begins with the remembrance of the infant Jesus being made manifest to the nations in the Magi coming to worship Him. It continues on as we remember the Lord’s Baptism on the Feast of the Baptism (which is the first Sunday in Epiphany, this year January 10th), in which the Divine Trinity is unveiled, if only for a moment. At the heart of Christian believing is the understanding that the divine mysteries are not to be hidden forever. We believe in a God of revelation, a God who reveals Himself, who makes Himself manifest to us. God desires to be known, and not as a concept, or the God of the gaps, but known in the personal sense.

In fact, the whole understanding that God is known by revelation points us to understand that the whole of creation is a manifestation of God. We live in a sacramental universe, the visible showing forth the invisible. Indeed simply the bare idea of human beings as worshipping creatures shows that we understand that we do not live in a universe which is barely material. The Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemman writes:

“the very notion of worship is based on an intuition and experience of the world as an 'epiphany' of God, thus the world -- in worship -- is revealed in its true nature and vocation as 'sacrament.'"

You might say that Epiphany is about focusing our attention upon the identity of Jesus Christ as the Sacrament par excellence. Of course, we see this in the pinnacle of Christian worship, the very fount of the Church’s identity: the Eucharist. Bread and wine, in many ways the most common of elements, are so joined to the person of Jesus that they can be called simply, the blood of Christ, and the body of Christ. The great Anglican divine Lancelot Andrewes believed that what we witness in the Eucharist, that great mystery, is a kind of hypostatic union, the union between the natural (bread and wine) and the immaterial God that they become one and the same thing. This is, in a basic sense, just the playing out of the grandeur of the Incarnation: Christ the unknowable, unapproachable, immutable God “being found in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:7).

It is in the person of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, that we come to know the true telos of human life: life lived in and through the goodness of God, the very life that the Son of God has always enjoyed becoming our life.

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Traditionally at Christ Church, following the greater catholic tradition, Epiphany has been a season in which the homes of our parishioners have been blessed. This year due to the continued dangers of COVID-19, these blessings will have to wait. But, we will default to later tradition, the blessing of chalk for the blessing of homes. Blessed chalk will be available from tonight’s 6 p.m. Epiphany Eucharist forward. To bless your house, simply gather the family or household at the main door, and begin this liturgy:

Liturgy of a House Blessing

Leader: (Priest, if present, or father of the family) : Peace be to this house.

All: And to all who dwell herein.

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

All Pray: The Magnificat (BCP, pg 45)

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

All Pray: The Lord’s Prayer (BCP, pg 47)

Leader: All they from Saba shall come

All: Bringing gold and frankincense.

Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come to You.

Leader: Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty, through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee—Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

All: And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.

Leader: Let us pray.

Bless, + O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Then, a mark is made with the chalk above the door: + 20 + C.M.B. + 21 +

The numbers signify the year and the initials signify the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, or "Christ, bless this house." (N.B. C.M.B. also refers to the traditional names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Bathazaar.




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LOCATION: 1008 Jefferson Avenue, Waco, TX 76701          PHONE: 254.340.0964          EMAIL: admin@christchurchwaco.org

SUNDAY WORSHIP:  Outdoor Eucharist 8:30 am, Catechesis 9:45 am, and Indoor Eucharist 10:45 am

(all services are held on the property of Christ Church)

 

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A church of the Great Commandment, the Great Commission, and the Great Tradition