We celebrate Epiphany Sunday this year on January 5th. January 6th is the Day of Epiphany and the start of the all-important church season of Epiphany. Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means manifestation. We are seeing the manifestation of God’s light and life and love in the world. God shines a light in the darkness, but if humans do not see that light and follow and serve it we do not fulfill our life’s meaning and purpose, and human civilization goes astray.
The season of Epiphany celebrates many ways we see the light, starting this Sunday with the Magi seeing, understanding and following the star to Christ in Bethlehem. This year we will read it as a parable of “Active Hope.” The children will continue their unit on what it looks like to “love your neighbor as your self” by beginning a series of four sessions on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Next Sunday, the 12th, we celebrate the epiphany that took place at the Baptism of Christ, and the following Sunday, the 19th, we will celebrate seeing the Spirit of Christ in humans, including Martin Luther King Jr., and hearing the Spirit in African-American gospel and spiritual music. The climax of the service will be the children presenting excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Epiphany ends on February 23rd with the dazzlingly brilliant spiritual presence of Christ within the man Jesus that was revealed to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration. That Sunday gives us our last burst of light before going into the dark wilderness of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
The congregation will sing “What Child Is This” and a medley of other Epiphany or Magi related carols including verses of “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “On This Day, Earth Shall Ring,” and “What Star Is This with Beams So Bright.” We will also sing a contemporary Epiphany hymn set to the Austrian Hymn tune (as in “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”). The choir will sing the Bach harmonized chorale “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright” and the popular Puerto Rican carol “De Tierra Lejana Venimos,” and “Arise, Shine” by Gary Alan Smith. Annemieke will play three J. S. Bach preludes and as her communion meditation, “Lullay Lullay O Little Tiny Child,” the deeply moving Coventry Carol. You can hear a live vocal version of it below.