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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

It's the Eleventh!

Guess what today is? RIGHT, it's the eleventh day of Christmas! And you know what that means! NO, not that a bunch of pipers are going to show up on your doorstep piping away! That's just a song, silly!

BUT: the twelve days of Christmas are not just a song. In many church traditions, the Christmas season is indeed celebrated over a twelve day stretch starting on December 25th and ending on January 5th.

January 6th, then, is the real day after Christmas. In those church traditions, it is a holiday named "Epiphany" or "Three Kings Day". For those who have lost their scorecard: Bible scholars tell us that the "three kings" or the "magi" that came to give their gifts to Jesus almost certainly did not arrive when Jesus was a newborn lying in a manger. In fact, Jesus was likely a year or two old by the time they made it there. The most clear evidence of this is that in the Gospel of Matthew, King Herod (who wanted to eliminate the competition of a new king) questioned the magi about when they had seen the sign of the birth of the Messiah, and then he tried to kill Jesus by killing every baby under the age of two years.

Anyway, in recognition of the fact that the three kings (there were almost certainly a lot more than three of them, too, but that's a different blog post!) showed up some time after Jesus' birth, Three Kings Day comes some time after Christmas Day.

There is a lot of significance to the appearance of the magi for those of us who are not Jewish by birth. They are the first Gentiles recorded to have recognized Jesus as the Messiah. They brought Him gifts that not only financed His family's flight to Egypt (fulfilling prophecy in the process) but recognized that His death one day would be significant (frankincense was used during embalming).

Regular readers will know that years ago, I had the idea to adopt Epiphany as a special tradition in my little family, and I invite you to do the same. As a Christian father, I believe that I have a special responsibility as a priest in my household. My tradition is to spend some time in prayer and ask God to give me ideas for special small gifts for each family member that will have a prophetic significance to them. The gift should be something that will carry them through the upcoming year, hopefully help each of them grow in their faith and grow personally into the kind of person God has made them to one day be.

So, what are you doing still reading this? It's two days until Epiphany! There's still time to join my family in our annual tradition of seeking God for the next year! If you want some inspiration, take a look at the kinds of gifts I've given in past years, and then seek God for what to do for the people God has placed in your life!

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