The twelve days of Christmas is more than just the name of a song: it’s an actual season of the church. We prepare for Christmas through the season of Advent, then Christmas lasts twelve days, culminating on Epiphany, which is tomorrow, January 6.
We will celebrate Epiphany in worship this Sunday, January 8.
Epiphany, means “appearing” or “revealing.” And it marks the occasion of the three wise ones, often called magi or wisemen, arriving in Bethlehem sometime after Jesus’ birth.
In many ways, Epiphany is about seeking. Leaving their homes, the wise ones set out to follow a star. Their seeking eventually leads them to Jesus, the newborn king. And then, after arriving in Bethlehem, their seeking, this time in their attentiveness to dreams, protects them from Herod’s deception and harm as they return home by another way.
In many ways, we too are seekers. As we enter a new year, we are seeking many things: connection, relationship, wonder, purpose, clarity, belonging, to name a few.
The celebration of Epiphany provides an opportunity to seek the presence of God among us. The good news of Christmas is that God took on human flesh and became one of us. So now, in Epiphany, we seek signs of God’s presence among us, which sometimes come in expected ways and sometimes come in unexpected ways.
As we celebrate Epiphany on Sunday, we will gather at the table for Communion, and we will select star words for the year. In some ways, a star word is just a word. But it is also an invitation to a different way of seeking God this year. These words, chosen at random, are meant to be an intention or guide for the new year.
But these words are also a gift, a reminder that God first seeks us. In receiving our star words, we trust that God has been at work in our lives long before this moment, and that God will continue to be at work in our lives long after this moment.
I think we all yearn for tangible, clear signs of God’s presence with us. We long for epiphanies that look more like an unmistakable star in the sky or dreams with clear instructions for how to return home. But sometimes God shows up in something far more simple, maybe even as simple as a word.
After receiving your word, I invite you to place it somewhere where you will see it often. And then, pay attention to how that word shows up in your life. If you need a place to start, consider simply looking up your word in a dictionary so that you might grasp more of its meaning.
If you will not be in worship on Sunday, but would like a star word, please reach out. I have extra star words and would love to share!