We are coming to the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and as I write this column the Epiphany High Mass programs are being duplicated. It is going to be a beautiful liturgy with two choirs in attendance. Our parish choir will sing, but also the Na Wai Chamber Choir will sing. The Na Wai Chamber Choir has been using our Parish Hall for a few practice sessions, and in return they are joining us for the Epiphany High Mass. They are a women's choir, and some of the women from our parish choir sing with them. They are under the direction of Mr. Jace Saplan. Even more delightful, both choirs will be singing the Five Magi Antiphons by Scott Villard, a member of our choir. Our choirmaster, Mike Dupre, has wanted to do these pieces for quite some time, and this Epiphany provides the chance. Our former choirmaster, David Kayner, used to remark that these antiphons are some of Scott's finest work. If you come on Friday night, you will see that they have been placed throughout the liturgy in five different spots.
In our current society, the Epiphany of our Lord gets lost next to the hype of Christmas Eve and Day, but in some ways, the Epiphany is the climax of the Christmas season, especially if you consider the whole incarnation cycle ending with the Presentation on February 2. On Christmas very few know about the Savior's birth - Mary, Joseph, the angels and shepherds, and some barnyard animals. It is the Epiphany that brings about the announcement to the whole world. On this day the Magi come to adore the newborn King. Non-Jews from a far-off land come to worship the Messiah. The news of Christmas is opening up to the entire world, and the feast of the Epiphany is that revelation. Our current prayer book does not allow us to transfer this feast to a Sunday, but if it falls on a Sunday, it takes precedence over the Sunday.
The Sunday after the Epiphany is always reserved for the Baptism of Christ. This is the second epiphany, and for many people throughout the Christian world, this event is the more important epiphany. For Eastern Christians, it is a very old feast. Our current prayer book places baptism at the center of the Christian life, and this Sunday we will have a baptism at the high mass, as well as the Renewal of Baptismal Vows at all masses. The Episcopal Church continues to live into the Sacrament of Baptism. One of the best practices of the 1979 Prayer Book is that it restored the Sacrament of Baptism into the life of the whole community. What used to be a private family affair has now become central to the whole gathered community. The family of faith gathers around the candidate for baptism - not just their biological family.
I hope you can join us this Friday evening for the Epiphany High Mass. Our children will be dressed as the kings for the procession, and a potluck follows the mass. I also hope you can join us for one of the masses this coming Sunday. Together as the family of Christ we will celebrate our Lord's baptism while welcoming another person into the faith.