The final strains of Silent Night gently fade into
warm and cherished memories as the winter morning turns toward
another typical business day of the new year. Crumpled Christmas
wrapping papers are methodically brushed aside as office documents
and end-of-the-season tax papers take their place. And the final
lingering aromas of the holiday season are quickly overtaken
by the day-to-day scents of morning coffee, toast and school
so many, this transition of the annual year is one of the most
difficult to face. The seemingly abrupt end of the highly anticipated
Christmas season is marked by the beginning of another calendar
year. It is a time when we simultaneously reflect back on our
fleeting holiday joy while again being reminded that the world
around us - along with ourself - is simply another year older.
We quickly dismiss the somewhat unfulfilled grand goals and
resolutions that we made only 365 days earlier in hopes that
this coming year will be one of greater personal accomplishment.
The Christmas lights are painfully extinguished for another
year as that personal glow inside seems to dim just slightly
as well... only to be reignited in a few short months...
is a pattern, an annual ritual many of us find ourselves embracing.
The question remains: Why? To experience such heightened seasonal
anticipation and then, joy, only to follow it up with a sobering
dose of letdown as we step back into the day-to-day parade of
Life. So, why?
friend, as another brisk midwestern January envelopes us, I
share with you the simple thought that perhaps the "secret
of the season" lies somewhere amidst the closing measures
of The First Noel and the often overlooked celebration
of the Epiphany.
many, the manger scene gloriously displays the Three Wise Men
(the Magi) and their gifts, right next to the humble presence
of the area shepherds... all peering upon the precious gift
of the Season. However, it is widely believed that the Three
Wise Men didn't arrive until some time after the birth of Jesus;
perhaps one to two years later. Regardless of the timing of
their arrival, it is important to remember that they did arrive
and offer praise. The Epiphany itself is a Christian feast
intended to celebrate the "shining forth" or revelation
of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus. Most
Christians commemorate the visitation of the Magi to the child
Jesus on this day, while others use the day to commemorate the
baptism of Jesus as an adult. The feast is also called Twelfth
Day — being the twelfth day after Christmas — or
Three Kings Day for those commemorating the Magi.
took quite a powerful ray of starlight to draw these strangers
from so far away. And my guess is that after their experience
in the little hamlet of Bethlehem, life was never the same again
for these gentlemen. Something happened there; an eye-opener
and a heart-stopper of an experience. It was the epiphany.
Their minds, eyes and hearts were opened wide to the greater
beauty and purpose of Life. From that moment on, Life must have
seemed so much richer and clearer and their daily tasks paled
is believed that the
ominous melody and words of The First Noel were first
crafted and arranged between the 16th and 17th century. The
word "noel" itself has many translations and definitions:
Christmas, birthday, new light, etc. The word "noel"
is also believed to be the nickname (first name) for a certain
saint Saint Nicholas. The very song and its verses detail the
beauty of that first birth, that first Christmas. Its melody
celebrates the new light that cut through the darkness... and
all of Life would be brighter... forever...
hard to step back into the gray of our days when just moments
before we were basking in the glow of that noel and in the warmth
of that epiphany. But to a smaller degree, don't we have a similar
experience on the day after a wonderful family reunion? The
week after a memborable personal birthday or anniversary? The
weeks after the departure of a dear friend from our neighborhood?
like these are epiphanies; they puncture the drabness that enters
into our days and remind us - again and again - of what is most
important. It is the very commonality of the human celebration.
And it is Christmas that places the divine in the very
center of each of our yearly (and daily) celebrations. Once
we've been introduced to that noel, that new light, humbly disguised
as an anniversary, a holiday, or birthday, it's no wonder we
would be hesitant to step back into the shadows of the daily
it doesn't have to be that way, my friend. For even though our
birthday candles have been extinguished for another year, our
life still goes boldly on, day by day. And in that spirit, we
might consider taking the advice of wiser men and following
the star long into our yearly journey... long after the celebration
of that first noel.
by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!
be your journey through all the Christmas moments of your year.
May they each bring a personal epiphany that lightens your days.