A New Epiphany on Epiphany

Businessdictionary.com defines epiphany as "A sudden realization about the nature or meaning of something." So as is the case many times for me, I had an epiphany about Epiphany the other night while sitting in a room of Kindergartners through Fourth Graders (Jesus had it right when He said that we need to become like little children to understand things at times - see Matthew 18:3). 

We learned that historical accounts point to Epiphany as the celebration after Jesus' birth, not leading up to His birth. It started on December 25th and ended with a festival on January 6th. This blows the theory of Santa showing up on December 25th because in many cultures, gifts are given on January 6th instead. Our ancestors really knew how to stretch out celebrations. We, on the other hand, run ourselves ragged leading up to important celebrations (like celebrating Jesus' birthday), and "poof," in a mere matter of minutes, the gifts are frantically unwrapped and the moment is over.

The term Epiphany isn't new to me. I grew up going to a church that celebrated Epiphany. I remember the liturgical readings during the season, the different color robes the pastors wore and the songs we sang. However, what I never really knew was what Epiphany actually stood for. I am not sure if I just missed it as a child/youth because I wasn't paying attention, or perhaps like many things within the church, we fail to explain things because we think everyone already knows this stuff anyway. Not always the case.

What we also learned the other night was the possibility of the highly recognized Twelve Days of Christmas as a song that represented a much more Christian tradition than the mostly secularized tradition it holds today. Dennis Bratcher writes about this on the Voice Institute's website (http://www.cresourcei.org/cy12days.html). I found this interpretation so inspiring and uplifting that I wanted to share this with you. I pray this speaks to your spirit during this busy holiday season.

Savor what the season means - a gift that was sent by God to save you from eternal separation from Him - truly a priceless gift. (John 3:16) 

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On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 1, Christmas Day, December 25
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 2, December 26
Two Turtle Doves
The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 3, December 27
Three French Hens
The Three Theological Virtues:  1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 4, December 28
Four Calling Birds
The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 5, December 29
Five Gold Rings
The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:  1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 6, December 30
Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 7, December 31
Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 8, January 1
Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 9, January 2
Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,
6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 10, January 3
Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 11, January 4
Eleven Pipers Piping
The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James.  (Luke 6:14-16).  The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 12, January 5
Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

2 Comments


Maria - November 30th, 2012 at 12:38pm

I absolutely love this Erin. I am planning a bible study for my children and there friends based on this very topic! Thanks for sharing

Erin - November 30th, 2012 at 12:55pm

That is great! Looking forward to Sunday!