The two months, January and December, contain three seasons of the church year. At Christmas, of course, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The celebration of Christmas extends for twelve days, until Epiphany, January 6th. The primary decoration in the church at Christmas is a crèche, or manger scene, depicting the baby Jesus in the stable at his birth along with his parents, visitors and animals. There is an old tradition that the Christmas tree and its decorations are taken down by the twelfth day of Christmas.
Advent is a time for preparation for Christmas. There is another tradition that carols are not sung in Advent before Christmas Eve, as they are not appropriate before the baby Jesus is born.
The third season is Epiphany, which begins on January 6th and continues to the Transfiguration, February 15th. Epiphany means “appearance,” or “display” and the day of Epiphany commemorates the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus. (So, strictly speaking, we should not have the wise men in the crèche scene at Christmas.) The wise men were non-Jewish holy men. Their visit to Jesus is taken to show that the birth of Jesus was not just for the Jewish people, but for non-Jews (gentiles) as well. Singing of Christmas carols traditionally ends at Epiphany.
Rev Dr Peter Trudinger
Advent Studies will be held before worship on Sundays 14th & 21st December, from 9.15am to 10.00am.
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