Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmastide & Its Parameters

Okay, after three posts in a row related to the general topic of modesty, allow me to change the subject, and throw in a quick liturgical reflection tonight. Eye witness reports tell me that at the chapel service on the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord at one of the Concordia University campuses, the "campus pastor" emphasized that it was simultaneously Epiphany and the twelfth day of Christmas. Is this what the Concordia system produces? This is hardly the same as heresy. It is important, however, for when a preacher utters such foolish notions, it makes it difficult for his hearers to respect the rest of his preaching. The university chapel ought to be the setting for exemplary preaching, where the Gospel is preached powerfully, and where truth and scholarship are not checked at the door.

To be clear, the twelve days of Christmas begin with 25 December, i.e, the first day of Christmas, and continue through the Christmas Octave, i.e., 1 January, through to the day before the Feast of the Epiphany. In this way, we see clearly the distinction between Christmastide and Epiphanytide. What Shakespeare called Twelfth Night (which was, by the way, set in Illyria, the ancient land of the Albanians), is the Vigil of the Epiphany, i.e., the 5th of January. The 6th of January is the first day after the Christmas season, not the twelfth or any other day of Christmas. It is, rather, the Feast of the Epiphany, and therefore the first day of the Epiphany Octave, an octave which concludes with the Baptism of our Lord.

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