St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Thursday, January 5, 2023
The Eve of the Epiphany 12th Day of Christmas
A reading from a sermon of Leo the Great, bishop of Rome, 461
The loving providence of God determined that in the last days he would aid the world, set on its course to destruction. He decreed that all nations should be saved in Christ. A promise had been made to the holy patriarch, Abraham, in regard to those nations. He was to have a countless progeny, born not from his body but from the seed of faith. His descendants are therefore compared with the array of stars. The father of nations was to hope not in an earthly progeny but n a progeny from above.
Let the full number of the nations now take their place in the family of the patriarchs. Let the children of the promise now receive the blessing in the seed of Abraham.In the persons of the Magi let all people adore the Creator of the universe; let God be known, not in Judea only, but in the whole world, so that “his name may be great in all Israel.”
Let us celebrate with spiritual joy the day of our first harvesting, of the first calling of the Gentiles. Let us give thanks to the merciful God, “who has made us worthy,” in the words of the Apostle, “to share the position of the saints in light; who has rescued us from the power of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” As Isaiah prophesied: “The peoples of the Gentiles, who sat in darkness, have seen a great light, and for those who dwelt in the region of the shadow of death a light has dawned. “He spoke of them to the Lord, “The Gentiles who do not know you, will invoke you, and the peoples who knew you not, will take refuge in you.”
This is the day that Abraham saw and rejoiced to see, when he knew that the children born of his faith would be blessed in his seed, that is, in Christ. Believing that he would be the father of the nations, he looked into the future, “giving glory to God, in full awareness that God is able to do what he has promised.”. This is the day that David prophesied in the psalms, when he said: “All the nations that you have brought into being will come and fall down in adoration in your presence, Lord, and glorify your name.” Again “the Lord has made known his salvation; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.”
This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognizes and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service; to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all of us to find Christ. (page 46, Readings for the Daily Office, edited by F. Robert Wright)
Hymn #117 (verses 1,4)
Brightest and best of the stars of the morning, dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid; star of the east, the horizon adorning, guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
Vainly we offer each ample oblation, vainly with gifts would his favor secure,
richer by far is the heart’s adoration, dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
Collect for Epiphany
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Tonight – or Tomorrow
This is 12th night the last day of Christmas. Normally, it is our final and wonderful final Christmas dinner tree lighting the last presents, the last stories – and when the children were little, the procession of the wise men/kings to the manger. Alas. With Elijah home sick with flu, and Xavier at a basketball game, Olivia at work and Sarah in bed feeling sick, we have postponed all this until tomorrow night. Remember this – our schedules can get crazy. Things happen to mess up our plans. But none of that matters. There is no time in God. We do want to celebrate this ending of Christmas, not just let it fizzle out, but tomorrow night works, too!