Posted by: Sue Spencer | January 8, 2008

Happy Epiphany Octave!!

This time of year, one of the blessings of religious community is experiencing the church’s seasons in slow motion. Here at Melrose, we mostly avoid the pre-Christmas rush, as we savor the three to four weeks of Advent as Advent. Advent hymns, not Christmas carols, are the norm until Christmas Eve. Christmas decorations don’t make an appearance until December 24, or close to it. (This year, we decorated on Sunday night, the 23rd.)

When Christmas comes, we savor it for nearly two weeks. Christmas isn’t over when December 25 comes and goes. Christmas Day is only the beginning of a twelve-day season, stretching through January 5. Thus we spare ourselves – or at least postpone – the “post-Christmas letdown” that many people report experiencing.

But at CHS, we stretch things out even further. Our festivities don’t end with the Twelve Days of Christmas, but extend as well through the Eight Days of Epiphany. The Feast of Epiphany (January 6) happened to fall on a Sunday this year; we’ll celebrate it, at least liturgically, through next Sunday, the “octave day.”

Our Epiphany celebration lasted most of Sunday. The preceding week, as well as the last week in Advent, had been Creativity Weeks for the community. At the morning Eucharist, remembering the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, we processed into the chapel bearing the “gifts” of these times. They included a painted drum, a crocheted wall hanging, a pile of quilts and afghans, a beehive, and various liturgical materials and journals. My gifts were two photographic calendars – “Children of South Africa” and “Melrose Moments” – and the beginnings of a booklet of my favorite recipes.

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Brunch, which included a beautiful Epiphany Cake, followed Eucharist. Someone introduced us to the game of “Cahoots,” which we played until everyone figured out the secret (“good Cahoots players never tell…”) which meant we were around the table until almost 3 p.m.

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In the evening, after vespers, we gathered around a blazing fire in the Great Room. This was Epiphany Night, but also our scheduled “low carbon benefit night,” in which friends and associates were invited, instead of coming out to our usual benefit, to spend an old-fashioned evening at home, and send a contribution. For our part, we enjoyed hors d’ouevres and various sparkling drinks, shared games and readings, and placed the Magi figures in the creche. All in all, a good and festive day.

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