Happy New Year! It is so often at this time of year that we take the time to make plans, set goals, reflect on the previous year and dream about the year to come. As I was reflecting on how complex this season is I longed for a way to help put it in a context of the church world. It was just then that I stumbled upon an article that did just that (thanks Holy Spirit). Here is just a portion of the article and I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.
Since ancient times, Christians have used the Christian calendar (also called the liturgical year) to orient themselves to the two most significant seasons in the yearly Christian cycle of time: Christmas and Easter. Within such a calendar, every day has a vital and traditionally sacred place relative to the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ.
Because the Christian year is rooted in the liturgical observances of ancient Judaism, it should not surprise us that over time different strains of Christianity developed different variations on the Christian year.
The Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Cycle
Rather than on January 1, the Christian new year begins on the Sunday that falls nearest November 30, which this year was on November 28. That Sunday through the next three Sundays (in other words, the time encompassing the four Sundays before Christmas) is known as the season of Advent (which is Latin for “coming”). During this time the church, liturgically, spiritually and practically, prepares for the glory of Christmas day.
While Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25, the Christmas season lasts the 12 days from December 25 to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 (this is where the “12 Days of Christmas” comes from).
Epiphany is Greek for “manifestation,” “show,” “revealed.” During this season Christians focus on God manifesting as Jesus, on his sacrifice and the atonement. It is also a time when churches tend to focus on their missional work: If Jesus gave his all to save believers, then believers must give their all to save others. Epiphany runs from the close of Christmastide (a traditional word for the Christmas season) on January 6 to the beginning of Lent.”
It was this last section of Epiphany that caught my attention the most. You see it is the day of Epiphany that helps us the most to put into context our reflections of 2018 and future thinking of 2019. When you think about your hopes and dreams, goals and resolutions for 2019 do you put them into the context of your faith? Do you pray about what God would have you do this year? It is on the day of Epiphany that Christ revealed himself to the world. So I am pondering how do I think about my goals for 2019 to be set so I can point to Christ in this world. What goals can I set so that I can be faithful to the call to show the love of God to the whole world, the world that God has loved so much.
Through out this year we will be presented with the great moments and the low moments. This year we will encounter things we expect and things we never saw coming. This year we will be given the chances to show Christ to a hunting world. So my Epiphany challenge to you is to make a resolution that will reveal Christ in your own life and the world.