Friday, January 2, 2009

Epiphany on a Sunday?

At text study this last week, I ran into an interesting pastor who was visiting someone he knew in the area, but decided to show up at our text study for the fun of it. He kind of took it over in ways that frustrated me, but he did mention at least one idea I found interesting.

Epiphany, he complained, being a fixed festival, is being diminished because of people's reticence to come to mid week services, and so he had taken to celebrating Epiphany on a sunday instead, the sunday preceeding the Baptism of Christ. He is quite sold on the importance of Epiphany as part of the Christian mindset, and wants to be able to preach on it.

Ultimately, I'm glad when I run into such innovative usage of the lectionary. It is not our master, but something we use to guide people through the story of Scripture. Frankly, I would commend this idea to others - I'm considering myself.

However, if this option is chosen, Epiphany will be substituted for Christmas 2 whenever it occurs (4/7 years), and whenever Christmas 2 doesn't occur (3/7 years), Epiphany will be substituted for Christmas 1. Christmas 1 deals with the childhood of Jesus from Luke and Matthew, and Christmas 2 is John on the Word become Flesh.

Practically, this means that John 1 in all its fullness will never occur in worship since it only appears on Christmas 2. Such a loss absolutely MUST be compensated for, for the Word become flesh is so central to our message. Creativity on Christmas or on Epiphany, or even throughout the rest of the year.

It is true that stories about Jesus' childhood wouldn't be eradicated by celebrating Epiphany during Christmas since there are usually two Sundays during Christmas. However, their role would be diminished. It may be that these stories will show up often enough for you, and that's fine. It may be they don't, in which case creativity is in order.

Would you actually use this option? Why? Why not? I invite comments.

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