1. When, as happened again in 2018, I am not involved in the week to week, season to season rhythms of the church calendar, when Christmas Day rolls around, it's a day like any other, except for meals and gift exchanges and other people's decorations. I wouldn't call myself a Scrooge. I'm not against Christmas! But, its meaning for me is most poignant when I've joined with other Episcopalians and experienced the long stretch of ordinary days in the season of the Pentecost and then begun to prepare for the birth of Jesus through the season of Advent. The readings, the candles, the subject matter of the homilies, the service of Lessons and Carols, all work together during Advent to make the celebration of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the ensuring twelve days of Christmas emotionally and spiritually alive for me. For me, this is a church experience, best entered into guided by the Liturgical Calendar and in the company of other members of the Anglican Community.
Today the twelve days of Christmastide ended. Today was the Day of the Epiphany, celebrating both the coming of the Magi and the revelation of God's incarnation in the person of Jesus. From today, until Ash Wednesday in March, Episcopalians will make their way through the season of the Epiphany. The Gospel readings will describe events that manifest the divinity of Jesus, telling the story of the baptism of Jesus, his calling of the disciples, the wedding at Cana, narrating various miracles, and conveying certain teachings of Jesus.
It's unusual for the Day of Epiphany to fall on a Sunday. I wan't even thinking about that on Saturday when I decided once and for all that I would drive to Coeur d'Alene this morning and worship at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on 5th and Wallace.
Today's service was a deeply emotional homecoming for me -- not to St. Luke's -- I'd never been there before -- but to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Aside from Amy Bird's Episcopal funeral and Josh and Adrienne's Episcopal wedding, I don't remember the last time I worshiped in an Episcopal church on Sunday
I recovered what I'd lost within myself by not worshiping during Advent and at Christmas time. I was not expecting an Epiphany Service of Lessons and Carols. Nor was I expecting children of the parish to enact the coming of the Three Wise Men.
The service included nine readings from Scripture, beginning with Genesis, including gorgeous poetry from the Prophet Isaiah, stories from the early days and years of Jesus' life, highlighting his family's escape into Egypt and return to Nazareth, and a reading from the Book of Revelation. After each reading, we sang a hymn or carol, some familiar, some not so familiar, but all reinforcing the beauty and events of the Epiphany and what they've come to mean.
After the Lessons and Carols, we returned to the liturgy: a Day of the Epiphany homily, prayers of the people, confession of sins, the passing of the peace, the offering collection, and the Holy Communion.
Even though the church was pretty full, I had a pew to myself. I was choking back tears a few times during the service and this felt private to me, so I was glad to be in this pew alone.
Now I'll hope for clear roads on Sundays between Kellogg and Coeur d'Alene and I plan to drive over regularly on Sunday mornings for services.
2. After church, I needed to let what I'd just experienced sink in and so I drove aimlessly around Coeur d'Alene for a while. I considered stopping somewhere for a late breakfast, but decided to just go to Pilgrim's, buy some tofu, and head back to Kellogg.
Back home, I fiddled around and then around three o'clock or so I remembered that the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions was on the Golf Channel. I watched the action right up until it was time to go to family dinner at six o'clock. The tournament was getting tighter when I flipped the tv off, but now I know I missed an incredible finish as Xander Schauffele fired a course record 62 in the final round to come from six strokes (after his bogey on hole number 1) behind to pass Gary Woodland and capture the tournament title.
3. Carol and Paul were tonight's hosts for family dinner. Carol fixed a superb statement dinner tonight. What was the statement? I AM BACK TO KETO. She didn't really say this out loud, but the dinner emphatically stated it. We had cucumber and tomato salad, a multi-colored stir fry of vegetables and shrimp, and cauliflower rice. For dessert, Carol whipped each of us up a lemon mug cake with a whipped cream topping -- totally Keto -- and presented one of the mug cakes to Christy with a candle lit for her upcoming birthday.
So, tonight's family dinner marked the end of the Christmas/New Year's season and all of its dietary indulgences, the return of Carol and Paul to Keto, and the early celebration of Christy's birthday.
It was also a fun night of conversation. We talked quite a bit about movies and television shows and I enjoyed saying "bleak black and white British movie" probably more than Christy, Carol, and Paul enjoyed me repeating it.
Sadly, Everett couldn't come to dinner. He's been feeling nauseous the last couple of days, most likely because of the antibiotics he's taking for the infection inside him that needs clearing up. Everett is pretty frustrated right now. Christy has her hands full as she encourages him to stay on his medications and tries to keep his spirits up. Let's hope things improve soon.