Thursday, January 7, 2016

The radiant joy of epiphany

Yesterday was epiphany. It is also known as "Three Kings Day." January 6th, which is the twelfth and last day of Christmas, is the day that three kings come to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. They bring three gifts, all of which seem like odd gifts for a newborn: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The gold symbolizes kingship on earth. The three kings are celebrating Jesus as a king. The frankincense is an incense which is a symbol for deity. This symbolizes Jesus' divine nature. The last gift is myrrh. Myrrh is a strong incense, which is used to mask the odor of death, especially in a tomb or a coffin. This symbolizes Jesus' future as the lamb of God, who, by his death, takes away the sins of the earth.

Jesus would live only 33 years but he made a huge impact on the world. Christians believe that Jesus is the messiah that was predicted in the Old Testament, the Son of God who takes away the sins of the earth. People of other faiths have different views. Muslims believe in Jesus' virgin birth and believe that he was one of the greatest messengers to mankind. They do not believe that he was crucified. For more information about how Muslims see Jesus Christ, take a look at this: a brief guide to Islam
Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They believe that the Messiah has yet to come. This messiah will, among other things, bring an end to war and suffering, rescue the children of Israel from exile, and bring people back to God, although not necessarily to Judaism. For more about Judaism and Jesus Christ, take a look at this: Being Jewish
The Dalai Lama offers a Buddhist perspective of Jesus: "the model of a spiritually mature, good, and warm-hearted person." A way to emulate Jesus would be to practice meditation. Christians may call that "centering prayer." Thicht Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist, sees Jesus as "someone interested in the well being of all sentient beings," which is something very important to the Buddhist faith.
For an interesting article about how the Buddhist see Jesus, take a look at Jesus through Buddhist Eyes
Hinduism is a faith that accepts many gods. There is no concept of a prophet or a messenger from God. Here is an article that describes the beliefs of Hindus at great length and explains the differences between Hinduism and Christianity: Hinduism and Christianity

My own experience of Epiphany yesterday was at the evensong at Saint Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Buffalo. It was the official end of Christmas for western Christians. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, Christmas is today (January 7th). So, to them, I say, have a very blessed and joyous Christmas.

At the service, Bishop William Franklin (aka "Bishop Bill") gave five priests the title of "honorary canon." It is the equivalent of "monsignor" in the Roman Catholic Church. The priests who were honored with this title were The Rev. Jerre Feagin, The Very Rev. Earle King, the Very Rev. Colleen O'Connor, the Very Rev. Gloria Payne-Carter, and the Very Rev. Barbara Price.

Approximately twenty-five people from Saint Martin-in-the-Fields church in Grand Island came to Buffalo for the service in which Father Earle was honored. Yesterday was also the 30th anniversary of Father Earle's ordination as an Episcopal priest. This was his second career. His first career was in music: he was an organist, choir director, and collegiate organ instructor. After he realized that God was calling him to the priesthood, he attended seminary and, 30 years ago, was ordained. He has been the vicar of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields Church for 28 years.

Here is the group. From left: The Very Rev. Gloria Payne-Carter, the Very Rev. Barbara Price, the Rev. Jerre Feagin, Bishop Bill, Father Earle, and the Very Rev. Colleen O'Connor.

Epiphany also means:
"a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience."
I hope that you, too, have had a good and joyous epiphany.



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