PASTOR’S MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Sudden Events = Lasting Impact

I just learned this week that PNC Bank does an annual calculation of the actual cost of all the presents that are supposedly given in the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” This year, they warned that the devoted gift-giver needs to have saved $39,094.93, an increase over last year due to “high-flying geese prices and a tight labor market for Lords-a-leaping, Pipers piping, and Drummers drumming.” No mention about the ongoing upkeep costs of all those gifts, but they must be substantial.

This rather tedious song is how most people know that the season of Christmas is twelve days long, lasting from December 25 through
January 5. I hope that you found a better and more cost-effective way to celebrate Christmas this year than loading someone down with a lot of unnecessary partridges. But regardless, this Sunday, January 6, marks the transition point away from the Christian celebration of Christmas.

In most of Western Christianity, Epiphany marks the arrival of the wise men to Bethlehem to honor the birth of Jesus, which will be our story for Sunday. But the word “epiphany” comes from a Greek word meaning “sudden revealing,” which is a little odd given that we just spent four weeks in Advent waiting expectantly for the revealing of the Christ child, then another twelve days celebrating his birth. At this point, Christmas ended almost two weeks ago in the larger culture, and even in the church we’re ready to move on; nothing about this feels sudden.

But sudden events can create lasting impact. So this Epiphany, as we finish celebrating Christmas and move fully into a new year, I want to invite you to consider how the impact of Christ’s birth continues for you, our church, and our world well beyond the time of Christmas celebration. I hope to see you in worship as we do so on Sunday!

Grace and Peace,