As a life-long Episcopalian, I recognize today, January 6, as The Feast of Epiphany, the end of the twelve days of Christmas and a celebration of the revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus Christ. It coincides with the Jewish Feast of Lights and shares some of its symbolism.
The lovely manger scene pictured above was given to my husband by his Aunt Mamie over sixty years ago. Every year, it holds a prominent place in our “Christmas Room,” where it represents the core meaning of our Christmas celebration – the birth of the Christ Child on Earth and in our hearts.
It is now time to put the manger away. I treasure the ritual. As I wrap each figure lovingly to put it away until next year, I take the opportunity to reflect on the role each of them played in the story: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Wise Men…and yes, even the animals. I reflect, too, on the double miracle of Christ's birth and the millions of faithful, practicing Christians over two thousand years later, all because of a single man's ministry thought to have spanned little more than three years.
The baby Jesus is the last figure to be wrapped. As I lay Him gently in the box, I say a prayer that the light of His life and love will always burn brightly in my heart, my thoughts, my words, and my actions. So simple, yet so profound…
In a very real sense, rituals and traditions are special—even holy—connections with those touchstones of our heritage and our faith, whatever that heritage and faith may be.
What rituals and traditions are meaningful to you at this time of year? I'd love to hear them in the Comments section below, or join the conversation at my Facebook Page.
Photo credit: John A. Cottrell, Jr., M.D.
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