January 6 marks the Epiphany and the 12th day of Christmas. I took this picture a few weeks ago at the ranch and it made me think of the Star of Bethlehem and the wise men following it. Matthew is the only one of the gospels to mention the wise men, but it’s a pretty interesting story. Of course it took them a while to get there, a year at least. So that business about them showing up at the birth is not quite accurate, but it makes for a livelier manger scene, wardrobe-wise.
Here is an explanation of Epiphany from About.Com/Christianity, if you’re interested.
At Calvary Episcopal Church in Tarboro, NC, where I grew up, the Epiphany celebration was called the Feast of Lights, and the distinguished trio of Bud Shook (the insurance man), Mahlon DeLoatch (the banker), and Hyman Phillips (the lawyer) dressed up in the Tarboro interpretation of royal Persian finery and marched down the aisle one by one holding their gifts for the baby Jesus.
Seriously, until I was about 12 I thought they were real kings. They were very grand, and each sang his respective gold, frankincense or myrrh verse of “We Three Kings” and the congregation sang all the other verses. Everyone lit candles at the end and slowly processed out of the dark church. It was magical.
My mother told all of us to shussh about 72-hundred times. It’s hard to keep quiet when you have a real king marching right past you, let alone three. But my cousin Gray took the admonition to extremes and about a week later was still whispering. So much so that the kindergarten teacher Mrs. Heindrich called her mother worried about the child’s subdued voice. That had to have been a first.
Cousin Gray is soft-spoken, and a star of wonder, to this day, but she might get that from her mother.
Now I have built the whole thing up to where I have convinced His Grace, not exactly a Churchgoer of the First Order, to come with me this afternoon to St Mark’s in the Valley in Los Olivos (sort of a California Tarboro) to see what the fuss is about. He is going to want to be one of those kings, I just know it.