• Epiphany

    By Hannah Coyne

    The Epiphanies of my youth were full of bongos and empanadas. For me, January 6th was not “Epiphany” but the Festival de Los Tres Reyes – the Feast of the Three Kings. At the inner-city cathedral in western Massachusetts where I was raised, several of my friends were Spanish speakers who were part of our Hispanic congregation. On January 6th, they hosted a huge feast for our church filled with guitars and drums, dancing, costumed kings bearing gifts for the children, and best of all, the best meat pie empanadas you’ve ever tasted in your life. To our joy and delight, there was a seemingly never-ending supply of piping hot empanadas flowing from the fryer. Epiphany was thus spent in a language and culture very different from my own middle-class, white suburban context.

    Given Epiphany’s significance, this feels very appropriate in retrospect. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of God’s glory in Christ for all people. Coming from the Greek word for “manifestation” or “appearance,” Epiphany is associated with the arrival of the Magi who travel from the East to worship the Christ child. Guided by a bright star, Christ’s arrival is made known to these Gentiles—non-Jewish wise men—who have sought him out to worship him. This story fulfills Isaiah’s vision of Israel being the recipient of God’s glory and light to which the nations will stream. During Epiphany, we celebrate the appearance of the Morning Star, Jesus. Just as the light of the star guided the Magi to Jesus, the Church is called to be the light of the world as we make Christ manifest, or apparent, in our midst.

    Only Matthew’s gospel, with its target Jewish audience, tells the story of the wise men. Matthew establishes early in his account that Yahweh is indeed for Israel—and through Israel, for people of all nations. I am struck by the words that the Gentile wise men said to King Herod upon their arrival in Jerusalem: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matt. 2:2). To put it mildly, Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” was “disturbed” (Matt. 2:3) at this announcement of a rival king. The Magi are not reported to have bowed at King Herod’s feet. These Gentiles seem to care very little about the power and honor ascribed to Herod. Instead they “bowed down and worshiped” the toddler Jesus.

    The whole story is imbued with celestial apparitions and divine guidance. God leads these Gentiles from another country and culture to Jesus by the light of a star. God then intervenes through a dream by telling these Gentiles to flee from Herod by sending them home via a detour. It sounds like another story we know… one of God’s children being led by a light (a pillar of fire) at night and their leaders receiving God’s guidance by dreams and visions. It is a story that Matthew’s Jewish audience knew very well, except this time the Gentiles are the ones being led.

    The wise men are often called ‘kings’ and depicted riding camels. Why is this? A clue might be found embedded in Israel’s story, in the book of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah writes that one day, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn… Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD” (Is. 60:3,6).

    Matthew uses this prophetic imagery to affirm that indeed, Israel’s light and glory has arrived—a promised Savior who is for all people, even Gentile wise men. He calls Israel to see the light—to have an epiphany. He asks the Jews to consider what it would mean to bow down, worship Jesus, and present him with their treasures like the Gentile wise men did. He nudges them to acknowledge this other King and this other Kingdom. It is not a path for the risk-averse. King Herod felt threatened by the worship of the Magi—so threatened that he had all the male toddlers and infants in Bethlehem killed in an attempt to eliminate Jesus.

    In the season of Epiphany, the Church is called to be the light of the world as we make Christ manifest in our lives and communities. We are called to consider the ramifications of this manifestation. It may involve risk. It certainly did for the wise men and for the families of the children who were slaughtered as a result of Herod’s wrath. It may involve eating different foods as you share the good news with people who are different from you. It certainly did for me and for the apostle Peter, who had to get used to the fact that in God’s Kingdom, it was okay to eat bacon. However it happens, it will definitely involve living into a Kingdom that is not of your own making, and that will result in many little epiphanies along the way.

    I love the way that poet W.H. Auden depicts this new Kingdom in his poem “For the Time Being”:

    “He is the Way.

    Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;

    You will see rare beasts and have unique adventures.

    He is the Truth.

    Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;

    You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

    He is the Life.

    Love Him in the World of the Flesh;

    And at your marriage, all its occasions shall dance for joy.”

    Here’s to an Epiphany full of unique adventures, great cities, and, like the wise men, the “overjoyed” (Matt. 2:10) feeling of discovering our King.

    Collect for the Feast of the Epiphany:

    O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

    Hannah Coyne is a native of western Massachusetts and obtained her Master’s in Pastoral Theology from Regent College in Vancouver.

  • Why do Carolers often travel from house to house singing Carols during Christmas?

    The familiar sight of people walking throughout the neighbourhood and singing Christmas carols is a tradition begun by Saint Francis of Assisi who is sometimes called the “Father of Caroling.” In 1223, Francis encouraged the people of his parish to sing while presenting their Christmas dramas in church. This was a departure from standard practice, since only ordained clergy men were permitted to sing the hymns of the season.


    The people were so overjoyed at this chance to sing that they took to the streets after acting out a drama and sang from house to house.


    By the 16th century, wandering minstrels, called “waites,” travelled the English towns, accompanying themselves with bagpipes, drums, and fiddles. They repeated their little “concerts“ nightly from Christmas Eve until the feast of Epiphany (January 6).

    -Father Rick

  • Daily Advent Info from ‘The Christian Book of Why?

    Christians like all human beings, are deeply affected by the rhythm of the calendar. The times and seasons have a profound influence on their businesses and social lives. Included in these festivals are the seasons of the Church. The familiar readings from the Bible, the hymns, national customs, legends, and family traditions associated with them combine to paint some of their most cherished memories.

    That which Christians refer to as the “Church Year” begins four Sundays before Christmas (December 25). This is the season of Advent which is the time for the believer to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child into the world. Christmas, with all its pageantry and gala celebration, is a time when Christians rejoice at the birth of the one whom they acvept as God’s Son—Jesus. So, let’s look at some of those traditions...

    Why Do Christians Celebrate Advent?

    In celebrating a four-week period prior to December 25 of preparing ourselves for Jesus coming into this world, we realize the word advent is a Latin term meaning “coming” or “arrival.” The season reflects this emphasis through two but separate related themes:

    • The coming of Christ into the world as a baby in Bethlehem.
    • The second coming of Christ into the world on the Day of Judgement.

    During Advent, the Christian community shares in singing traditional hymns, such as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Some congregations conduct special midweek church services to mark the season. Originally Advent, was of undetermined length. In the Early Church it was primarily a period of fasting and worship for those who were scheduled to be baptized on Epiphany (January 6). Centuries later, it developed into the current four-week observance.

    Advent took on a somber character in the eleventh century at the urging of Pope Gregory VII. Marriages were prohibited, and joyous celebrations were kept to a minimum. Today however, Christians reflect a joyful anticipation for the birth of the Christ child.

    Fr Rick Gariepy

  • Sexual Equality in Male & Female Marital Oneness

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    Lots of people avoid rare beef because they don't like "bloody" meat.  Guess what?  It's not blood.

    That's right, steak fans, the red liquid that is oozing out of the meat is not blood, but something called myoglobin.  Even the reddest and rarest of steaks is actually bloodless.  Blood is removed as the meat is processed; it never makes it to your table no matter how little or much you cook the meat.  Myoglobin turns red when exposed to oxygen, and so it looks like blood.  But looks can be deceiving.

    Steak isn't the ONLY thing that can deceive us with its looks.  Bleach looks like water, but isn't. Water hemlock looks like parsley, but it is actually the most toxic plant in North America.  Kraft Parmesan cheese and Comet cleanser both come in round green containers.  Making assumptions based upon outward appearances can lead to utterly wrong conclusions.

    Jesus didn't look like God come in the flesh.  He didn't fly in on a comet, wearing a bright blue suit with a red cape and a big "S" (for "Saviour") on His chest . He looked like a good rabbi. He looked like a wise and honest teacher.  But He said He was the Messiah. He declared Himself to be God, and was almost stoned to death by the Jews when He did. (John 10:32) He was, as the creed declares, "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God."

    He was pierced for OUR rebellion, crushed for OUR sins. HE was beaten so WE could be made whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. He died and rose again to pay the price of death for OUR sins, and then offer us the gift of life. REAL life. ETERNAL LIFE with Him.

    And, on the night He was betrayed, He took bread, broke it and gave it to His disciples. And when He did, He said, "This is My Body." Then, after supper, He took the cup that had been filled with wine, and gave it to His disciples and said, "This is My Blood."

    Whenever a person turns to Christ and repents of their sin, He performs an instant miracle. He recreates them! If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, His word says. Every person, every time. He repeats the miracle of new birth each and every time someone chooses to pray that prayer.

    Whenever a believer asks the Father to pour out His Holy Spirit upon him or her, He performs an instant miracle. God repeats the miracle so that we can always "be being filled" with the Spirit. Jesus said, "if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Every person, every time.

    Whenever the priest prays the prayer of consecration, He performs an instant miracle. The bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ. Every time. He repeats the miracle and the real presence of Christ fills and transforms the substance.

    It is a doctrine the Church universal has held unquestioned since its inception; except for the last few centuries when some have abandoned the understanding of His real presence and begun to teach that communion is not a miracle, it is only a memorial. This has led to fewer and fewer churches celebrating The Lord's Table, and those that do celebrating it less and less often. (That was, I believe, the enemy's plan all along.)

    It IS His Body.
    It IS His Blood.

    Looks like wine, but looks can be deceiving.

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