Epiphany – January 6, which marks the end of the Christmas Season or Christmastide. In the Western churches, Epiphany Day has marked the observance of the arrival of the wise men. In the earliest Christian traditions, maintained by the Eastern churches, the day began a period that celebrated the incarnation and baptism of Christ. The liturgical color for Epiphany Day is white.
In some cultures, Epiphany is known as the Day of the Kings (Dia de los Reyes). It is also known as Twelfth Day or Twelfth Night, reflecting an old custom of giving a gift for each of the days from December 25 to January 6 for the 12 days of Christmas. The day has special meaning for a number of reasons. Several branches of Christianity celebrate the birth of the Christ Child on January 6 or January 7.
The word epiphany means appearance or manifestation. Popular usage likens epiphany to words such as eureka or aha! Use of this word by some English speakers conjures images of having a light bulb turned on, or of being able to see something that was once hidden from view. The texts for the Sundays after the Epiphany dramatize the many ways that we people came to understand who Jesus was, through his baptism, the miracle at the wedding, or through that bodacious declaration in his hometown synagogue! But, this ever-widening circle of revelation began ‘outside the circle’ of Judaism, so to speak, with the Magi.
Meaning of Chrismons – Chrismons are ornaments, generally handmade, that serve as symbols of faith. Each one is made to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as our Savior in a special way. Chrismons are generally made in white or gold or a combination of the two. White is the liturgical color for Christmas and suggests the holiness, innocence, purity, and perfection of the perfect lamb, Jesus Christ. Scripture often uses white to portray purity and equates it with light.
Gold is a symbol of the glory and majesty of God and the Son of God. Some Chrismons have red to symbolize the blood of Christ or green to symbolize the tree of Jesse and new life in Christ.
The circle of the wreath represents God’s eternal nature.
Cross – reminder of our Lord’s saving work of redeeming mankind
Sun of Righteousness – symbol of the prophecy of Malachi who compared the Messiah to the sun, the brightest visible thing in the world
Flames – represent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost
Fish – ancient symbol for Christ. It was used as a secret sign during early
Butterfly – symbolic of Lord’s resurrection
Descending Dove – represents the Holy Spirit at the baptism of Christ
Lamb – scriptural symbol for Christ
Scallop Shell with Three Teardrops – represents the baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Lamp – symbolizes knowledge and inspiration
Book – represents the written word…the Bible
Shepherd’s Crook – represents the shepherds at the manger or Jesus being the Good Shepherd
Trefoil or Triangle – represents the triune of God
Monogram – IHS – represents the name of Christ in Greek
Star – represents the ways in which God comes to us. Also symbolic of Heaven and the leading of the wise men to Jesus.
Angels – represent the winged beings that God created to praise and serve Him.
Crown – represents the Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ
Evergreen Tree – symbolizes eternal life
Why Do We Celebrate the Hanging of the Green? What is “Hanging of the Green”? “Hanging of the Green”: Why do we do it? What does it mean? It is a custom predating Christ when people would bring indoors, green boughs and branches to sustain them during the dark days of winter without electricity. This carried through to the Christian era. This meant homes, stores, churches would do much to decorate with evergreens. Remember the church always led the way in the community and not the reverse.
So for hundreds of years, the church has led the way with the remembrance of Christ’s incarnation through the evergreens in the church during the Advent season which begins next Sunday. At this time we prepare for the one who has come, whom we expect to come, who has come into our lives in numerous ways in various times and places, and the One who will come again. We prepare our hearts. We make room again for the Messiah. In hanging the green we share with Christians throughout the ages the memory and anticipation of Christ’s coming. We decorate our church with these symbols: everlasting life, love, joy, hope, peace, so then even our decorations proclaim: Jesus is born! God is with us! Praise His name forever!
All Saints – November 1 is All Saints Day, a sometimes-overlooked holy day in United Methodist congregations. It is not nearly as well known as the day before, All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve, better known as Halloween, but is far more important in the life of the church.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, enjoyed and celebrated All Saints Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” The following year he calls it “a day that I peculiarly love.”
All Saints Day is an opportunity to give thanks for all those who have gone before us in the faith. It is a time to celebrate our history, what United Methodists call the tradition of the church.
From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12 the author encourages Christians to remember that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us encouraging us, cheering us on.
Altar – a ceremonial table on which ancient Israelites offered sacrifices to God. Today Christian congregations use altars to represent the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf and the grace that Christ offers through Holy Communion.