There was a funny, not-so-funny, event at our church between Christmas Day and January 6th, we had a building inspection done by our town inspector. I want to say first of all that we take safety as an important part of our ministry, especially because we have a preschool with 70 children attending. I am grateful for the expertise that comes to our door from the town’s offices at no additional expense to us to ensure we operate our building in as safe a manner as possible.
Our inspector was thorough, thoughtful, courteous, and provided not only comments but also suggestions. As I as said, we are fortunate to have an outsider’s view of the building. I wish I had been there at one particular point though, not to rebuff or challenge an issue of safety, the inspector was right-on with all the things he pointed out to us, but to educate and provide an opportunity for understanding our faith.
Our inspector, upon finding a manger with a little hay in it, rightfully pointed out that we should be careful with this lying around and probably use a fire resistant substitute instead, all good advice. It was the other comment as related to me though that I think we all tend to fall into, he said something like “after all, Christmas is over..”
OK, this was a few days after Christmas Day but before January 6th so here is the opportunity. Christmas, the Christmas Season, actually does not end until Epiphany (notice the capital ‘E’, more on that in a moment). I wish I had been present during the meeting to provide a moment of reflection for our industrious inspector.
If you have ever heard the song, “Twelve Days of Christmas’ then you might begin to see the clue to the error in the statement ‘after all, Christmas is over.’ Yes, the BIG day, Christmas Day, with all the presents and family and friends and food and all has past but the season of celebration isn’t over. In the song, the courting partner offers his or her true love gifts on each of the twelve days of Christmas. You know, a partridge, some pipers, maids a milking, etc.
Epipihany, with the capital ‘E’ is according to the online dictionary from Mirriam-Webster, “January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.” (www.merriam-webster.com).
We as Christians really begin preparing for Christmas Day with the four weeks of Advent prior to Christmas Day and don’t have “Christmas over” until the Magi arrive bearing gifts. That’s a long time. Perhaps had I been there, our friendly inspector would have had his own ‘epiphany’ with a small ‘e’ which is defined (again from Mirriam-Webster) as “an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, a revealing moment.” Merry Christmas!