This morning I awoke to bird-song outside my bedroom window; a robin was perched in a wintered tree and was robustly singing alongside the rising sun. This melody was a delightful reminder that Epiphany is upon us; the season where we proclaim that God is indeed with us is NOW. Throughout the dark-filled Advent season we prepared our homes, our trees and the containments of boxes for Christmas. We prepared for a day to come, a day which marks the arrival of the Christ Child. We moved forward with anticipation and delight, counting down the days and hours to this sacred time. And with Epiphany now here, we are invited to join with the age-old Wise Men and celebrate the reality of the Christ Child, to proclaim the promise of a prophecy, to commemorate the covenant of what comes out of Christmas being planted in our hearts.
Due to the fact that Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, we spent a shorter time leisurely around the tree, and prepared to gather with our faith community at Madrona Grace Church. Once there, the children (don’t all good lessons come by way of the children?) were engaged with the Nativity Story from Mary’s perspective and the great gift she was given of carrying the life of Jesus. The lesson was further emphasized by the simple assignment of placing a pole bean seed within the wetted, soft folds of a paper napkin inside a clear jar. “The seed, the promise of Jesus, was planted in Mary,” the activity affirmed. “What has God planted in you? What great gifts are growing in you?” The instructions were for the children to bring the jar home and place it on a windowsill. Daily they are to water it, watch it and wonder about what that is that has been planted in them.
Today, following the 12 Days of Christmas, the small seed has swelled with new life. It has sprouted a sustainable root system and grown a full two inches. Leaf fronds are emerging from the bean pod and the boys’ wonderment is real (and oh so good!) as they have witnessed the growing life from within this little seed. They are so eager to plant this pole bean in the earth and eat the tasty fruit from its vines. For this we must wait a bit longer, but the simple lesson from Christmas morning is very clear on this day of Epiphany.
We do prepare for Christmas, and prepare well we should. We are creating the conditions for the coming of the Christ Child into our lives. We are opening ourselves up to the life-giving promises of this contrary, cosmic Story. Even so, the Christmas Tree has likely grown dry and it is now the time for the festive accoutrements to be put away. But as we pack up the ornaments, and replace the holiday enhancements with the normal household arrangements, we should not be packing up the truth of the season as well. God came on Christmas Day, but God didn’t leave. Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, is still here! The seed that was planted within Mary grew and became the SAVIOR.
So on this day, which marks a new season of celebrating the presence of God, I am struck by the roots of this quickly growing pole bean. I am stilled by this visual of quick and ready growth, when the conditions have been prepared just so. I hope that the gifts that I have been given, the blessings planted within me, are growing at a rate that will allow me to make gifts of them to others. I hope that I too can join with the Three Kings and give what I have been accorded.