by Father Ted

A blessed Feast of the Epiphany to all of you!

Today is one of the most important days of the church year. The prayer book lists it as a “Principle Feast,” on par with All Saints’, Pentecost, Christmas, and Easter. As you’re reading this, all around the world, Christians are celebrating the incarnation of Christ and his manifestation to all peoples. Tonight at 7:00, our parish family will celebrate this marvelous occasion with a beautiful service of Holy Eucharist, complete with choir and incense. After we have received communion, we will process outside for a traditional Burning of the Greens to remind us that the light that entered the world in the person of Jesus Christ will never be dimmed. (It’s also a festive way to get rid of the Christmas greenery.) As the greens are piled onto the fire, we’ll sing “Joy to the World” one final time as we bring our Christmas celebrations to a close. Bracken and his team are preparing a wonderful reception, and three “Wise Guys” will be wandering around with jokes for everyone.

These are just a few of the traditions that we observe to mark the Feast of Epiphany, but there are lots more in the Christian tradition. One that I’m particularly fond of is the Epiphany Proclamation.

Long before you could ask Siri to tell you the date of Easter, it was difficult for the average lay person to determine the dates of all the movable feasts on the church calendar. So, the church decided to take advantage of Epiphany, a time at the beginning of the year when everyone would gather for worship, and announce the dates for things like Ash Wednesday and Pentecost. Here is what the Epiphany Proclamation would sound like this year:

Dear brothers and sisters, the glory of the Lord has shone upon us, and shall ever be manifest among us, until the day of His return!Through the rhythms of times and seasons let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation!Let us recall the year’s culmination, the Easter Triduum of the Lord: 
His Last Supper, His Crucifixion and Death, His Burial, and His Rising, celebrated between the evening of the 6th day of April and the evening of the 8th day of April, Easter Day being on the 9th day of April.Each Easter—as on each Sunday— the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed by which Christ has forever conquered sin and death. From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will occur on the 22nd day of February.The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on the 18th day of May.Pentecost, the joyful conclusion of the season of Easter, will be celebrated on the 28th day of May.And this year the First Sunday of Advent will be on the 3rd day of December.Likewise, the pilgrim Church proclaims the Passover of Christ in the feasts of the holy Mother of God, in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints, and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come, Lord of time and history, be endless praise, for ever and ever. Amen!I’m sure you can see how such a proclamation would be helpful to those who didn’t get weekly church emails with details about everything that’s going on. But I think it can be helpful for us today as well. It can help us think about how to best order our lives for the coming year; about how to use our time. And with that comes a simple, although perhaps surprising, request from the curate:

This year, please request to take Good Friday off from work.

Yes: go ahead and email your boss and let him or her know that you’d like to use a vacation day on April 7. I know that paid-time-off is precious, but that’s part of the reason why you should use it for something like observing Good Friday here at Transfiguration. I promise, it will be time well-spent. When I was a member of the choir here, I always asked for Good Friday off, even when I was a barista or working as a temp. (Also, this falls under the category of, “Do as I say, not as I do,” because I’ll definitely be working on Good Friday.)

If you are retired, then this isn’t much of an ask. If you are your own boss, then hopefully you can make it work. Being together and worshipping God on days like Good Friday is essential to Anglican practice and tradition. Although the term “holy day of obligation” is used more frequently in other denominations, the sentiment still applies.

So, before you hit “send” on your final emails before the weekend, I hope you’ll consider submitting that time-off request. Perhaps you could just save it as a draft and send it on Monday morning. It’s important to keep these yearly celebrations and remembrances when we make present the great and saving deed by which Christ has forever conquered sin and death. To him who was, who is, and who is to come; Lord of time and history, be endless praise, for ever and ever. Amen!


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