I left the candles lit in the windows and kept the holiday lights burning on the outdoor tree through last Sunday night, January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. On Monday morning I unplugged them all. Since then, I have begun, little by little, to take down and put away those and other last vestiges of the Christmas season. And so life returns to normal. Or does it?
Actually, I hope it does not. I hope that in these early weeks of this New Year, I will find that I am not the same old me who began the journey into Advent and Christmas. I would like to think that I have been somehow changed—not just touched, or moved, or thrilled, but at least in some small way, truly changed—by the lessons and carols, the hopes and promises of Christmas.
What would such a change look like? Maybe I would be a little more patient—that is, a little more like Elizabeth. Or be a little less quick to speak unnecessary words—that is, a little more like Zechariah. Maybe I would be more willing to say “Yes” to God’s call, like Mary. Or, like Joseph, be a little more trusting of some unusual way God is at work in someone I love. On the other hand, perhaps I would be a little less convinced that my way is the “right” way to think, or pray, or vote, or read the Bible—that is, to be a little less like (yikes! ouch) Herod?!, who was definitely into hanging onto his own perceived personal power, no matter the cost!
The Wise Ones are the ones who lead us into this season of Epiphany. They arrive at the manger with their strange gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh—and with warnings of Herod’s intent to eliminate the “new-born king.” When they leave, they go by a different route from the one they had used to get there—a sign that they themselves had been changed by their journey and by their encounter with the Christ Child.
Their departure leaves Mary and Joseph to flee with the child into Egypt, away from Herod’s false promises and murderous jealousy, and it leaves you and me to take our own next steps. As we move on, may we each travel the path that best serves our assorted communities, our various calls, our common love for the Holy Infant. And may we be open to the faith and light we need to sustain us on our journeys.