A more personal reflection today dear readers….since I have been living in an extended household situation, I have more flexibility to decorate your parish rectory more seasonally. Empty nesting seems to mean I notice more and smaller things more readily than I did previously! To my mind church seasons give us a far more interesting calendar than does Hallmark to mark the passage of God’s time. One of Epiphany’s lesser known traditions is to either break down Christmas decorations before Epiphany itself, or then wait forty more days to a day called Candlemas we’ll explore when we get closer. Another ancient Epiphanytide tradition is to chalk a coded message on the outside of our homes to identify the residence as Christian. Much like those ancient Hebrews fleeing Egypt flung blood from the Passover lamb upon their door lintels for protection from plague, so we write something like this outside…”20-C-M-B-21” Obviously the calendar year is split into bookends, while the first letters of the Magi’s traditional names are listed in-between, a clever code which also conveys the first letters of the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, God bless this house!!!
I will chalk the Rectory, letting the weather erode the chalk hopefully by Lent. I will also take an Anglican moderated approach to the dramatic de-greening of my home from Christmastide. The tree comes down, the ornaments will be packed snugly away, and the brightly lit Christmas penguin outside will be relieved from his protective posting by the front door. The Advent and Christmastide wreath stays as I’ll burn down the remaining purple and pink candles. I’ll move the small icons from the simplified wreath to the greened and still lit fireplace mantle, and perhaps even add some more from my downstairs icon stash. The ceramic creche my mother painted will be carefully packed away, but I may try to find some other wise men to stand guard over the piano for a few weeks longer. And those windowsill candles stay right where they are just because they look so cool at night!
I like the concept that our interior decorations are transformed, but not suddenly ended. I like the idea that Epiphanytide’s green is still reflected inside my home with more simple greenery as we continue navigating a long Colorado winter. I like the idea that Epiphany may stretch my (astonishingly limited) notions of interior decoration with anything biblical or theological. I like the idea of decorating with icons which invite prayerful engagement. No icons I hear you scoffing?!! No problem! Print a nice image you find from our Sunday readings during Epiphanytide. Open an old book with pictures from biblical stories. Paint a little something with an Epiphanytide or Christmastide theme….I found several ceramic creche scenes to paint yourself if you’d like a fun project before Lent begins! Get creative dear readers and let’s do this Epiphanytide up right!!