Out of Step

“Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
It was a tradition in our home — one begun and perpetuated by my mother — that the celebration of Christmas wouldn’t end until the last day of Christmas had come and gone.  And so it was that we could count on one last gift on Epiphany, on January 6th. The Church calls this day Epiphany.  As children we knew it as “Three Kings Day”: that day when we remember the wise men from the east who were guided by a star and found their way to Bethlehem where they offered gifts fit for a king.  We were always back in school by then and so it was that at the dinner table that night a small gift would be waiting for us each one…  Usually, I have to say, it came as a surprise.  For in spite of the fact that it happened every year, usually I would forget…
It was a tradition which put us a little “out of step” with the rest of our world in that small town we called home, for having no orthodox neighbors, we had no idea that whole ancient traditions continue to mark Christmas on that day. We only knew that something special was ours to receive and celebrate: one more gift to unwrap long after Christmas had otherwise been packed up and put away.
And so I wonder now what gifts will be ours to give and receive this Epiphany, this 12th day, this 6th of January — long after the more expected and anticipated giving and receiving is past.  I, for one, am going to keep the tradition alive tomorrow— waking a little earlier to stop at the bakery in Sycamore to pick up treats for my colleagues at work.  They certainly won’t expect it and that will be part of the fun.  It is my hope that perhaps that little bit of sweetness shared will help make us all the more aware of all those other gifts God intends for us — not the kind we unwrap, perhaps, but the sorts that surround us, often surprising us,  all the time.
How about you?  How will you mark Epiphany this year?  What gifts will you give?  How will your eyes and hearts be opened to receive the gifts of God for you?   Could it be that this awareness of God’s unending generosity is one of the best ways our faith puts us “out of step” with the rest of the world?  Indeed, what a wonder it is that we might not only receive but also recognize the gifts of God on an otherwise ordinary day in January…

2 comments

  1. My gifts this year went to International Justice Mission and I have never been happier in giving. I found myself out of step with memories of Christmas past, as they became overshadowed by the grief of those who will perhaps never know the joys of my childhood. And I am not the least sorrowful for being out of step.

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