Jesus teaches his disciples (you and me) about love and the Law. Let us respond to God’s teaching and grace.
The Collect for the Day
O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
If we really listen to Jesus (Matthew 5:1-48) we discover that love is at the heart of the Law. Without love (as Paul later writes), “I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) Recognizing this, we have the courage to pray that our Lord will send the Holy Spirit, pouring into our hearts his greatest gift, love. Through the week let’s pay attention to God’s answer to our prayer. ~Fr. Dan
A man dressed as one of the Three Kings greets people during the Epiphany parade in Gijon, Spain, on Jan. 5, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Eloy Alonso
A baby in the cake, shoes left out for candy (or coal), a polar bear dip to retrieve a cross: these are a few of the customs explained in a Religion News Service (RNS) “‘Splainer.” Epiphany was celebrated on January 6th, but the RNS post “What is Epiphany?” is still timely. Enjoy the read.
You thought the holidays were over. Technically, no — not until Jan. 6, when Christians all over the world celebrate Epiphany. In some places, the day is known as “Three Kings Day” after the wise men, or Magi, who, the Bible says, brought the infant gifts and proclaimed him the Son of God. In other places, the day is known for giving gifts, for extremely cold baths and for biting into babies. Let us ’splain …
January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany in the Episcopal Church. Often we read the account of the Magi offering the baby Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There is a long history of exploring the meaning of these gifts. The link (below) will give you one insight.
“Were the gifts of the magi meant to save Jesus from the pain of arthritis? It’s possible, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales who have been studying the medical uses of frankincense.”
Spread the word about this (lesser known) feast and Jan Richardson’s gift:
Happy New Year and Merry (almost) Epiphany! In celebration, these three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.
It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need a space of respite and reflection. The retreat, which you can download as a PDF, offers readings, art, and blessings that invite you to listen to your life. Read Jan’s whole post (and download the retreat) here: Women’s Christmas 2015 – A Gift for You « The Painted Prayerbook.
It’s a poetic sound in the chimes tonight. What do you hear?
We three kings of Orient are
If you haven’t discovered Hymnary.org yet, now would be a good time. The text of this favorite Epiphany hymn was written by John H. Hopkins (an Episcopal deacon) in 1867 and the text and more is set out nicely by Hymnary. It is a rich source of texts, history, music, and much more.
We three kings of Orient are:
Bearing gifts we traverse afar—
Field and fountain, moor and mountain—
Following yonder star.
Oh, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain:
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.[Chorus]
Frankincense to offer have I,
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship Him, God on high.[Chorus]
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom—Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.[Chorus]
Glorious now behold Him arise:
King and God and Sacrifice;
Earth to heaven replies.[Chorus]
Adoration of the Kings, Mosaic, 1296, Jacopo Torriti, (13th Century)
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there was an extraordinary growth in the veneration of Mary and many churches honored her name. In France, cathedrals were named Notre Dame (Holy Virgin) and in Rome alone, twenty-five churches were named Santa Maria. The largest of these became known as Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major). This ancient church was expanded numerous times and during the late thirteenth century the entire choir area was rebuilt. Jacopo Torriti was commissioned to design the mosaic for its new apse. By this time, Mary had been exalted to the status of royalty and in art she was usually shown seated on a throne. The theme that Torriti chose for the apse mosaic was the coronation of the virgin and its centerpiece was a large medallion depicting Christ placing a crown on the head of Mary. Scenes from the life of Mary are shown below the medallion and among them is “Adoration of the Kings.”
In the Book of Matthew (Chapter 2) an account is given of wise men from the East who – being guided by a star – traveled to Bethlehem, and brought three gifts to the infant Jesus. It is believed these visitors were magi from Persia; men known to be scholars who studied science, mathematics, philosophy, and the stars. Matthew’s account does not indicate how many wise men journeyed to Bethlehem but because three gifts were brought, the assumption has been that there were three.
Torriti’s, “Adoration of the Kings,” depicts Mary with the infant Jesus seated on a throne. An inconspicuous star is to the left of the throne and its rays point directly to the head of Jesus. The three kings with their crowns and splendid robes are raising their gifts as Jesus reaches out like a curious child. The kings, kneeling one behind the other in similar positions, create a sense of visual progression toward the infant; variations are introduced through differences in their crowns, the color of their beards, and the color of their robes. In the large pictorial space above them is an angel. Its active shape and large spreading wings fill the space and balance visually the stable and compact shapes of the kings below. All aspects – gestures, gazes, leanings – of the figures in this mosaic lead a viewer to the infant Jesus. The kings look directly at the child as they kneel and present their gifts while the angel looks at Jesus, extends an arm, and gestures, “Behold!”
Artists before the Renaissance had difficulties when they tried to create a convincing likeness of a child. The face of Torriti’s infant Jesus has the facial features of his mother and a receding hairline. His proportions are like that of an adult’s body reduced in size.
A mosaic is an image created by cementing small pieces (called tesserae) of various hard colored materials – usually of uniform size – to a base such as a wall, floor or ceiling. Materials such as marble, glazed clay and glass have been used traditionally for tesserae and they continue to be used today.