Between Christmastide and the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, Jesus grows up 30 years. This year Jesus grows up to manhood - given the layout of the Christian year calendar - in less than 24 hours.
We are still in the twelve days of the Christmas season, which lasts until the Feast of the Epiphany, the day that we celebrate the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. Epiphany is always January 6, no matter upon which day of the week the date falls.
The First Sunday after the Epiphany is always the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, for us Sunday, January 7, this year. Our parish will join with St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral again for the diocesan Feast of Lights, which has been transferred to the evening of January 7.
So, if we observe the magi arriving at the manger on January 6, and we celebrate his baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist on January 7, Jesus has to grow up 30 years in 24 hours.
Well, not really, but we get the point.
Some scholars and historians say there is evidence that the magi actually visited the Christ Child in Bethlehem at age 3. Jesus may have to reach manhood this liturgical year by growing up only 27 years rather than 30.
We still get the point.
The point is that, throughout the liturgical year, we relive the events and markers of Jesus’ life by celebrating our feast days.
Between Christmas Day and Epiphany, the Christian-year calendar also includes the feasts of St. Stephen (December 26), St. John (December 27), and the Holy Innocents (December 28). The Roman Catholic calendar includes the Feast of the Holy Family on December 31.
As we celebrate the proclamations of John the Baptist on Advent III and Advent IV (“Prepare ye the way of the Lord”), we mark the actual baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist on this First Sunday after the Epiphany.
In the music at 10:30 a.m., look for references to the Baptism of Jesus: hymns “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,” “Christ, when for us you were baptized,” “Descend, O Spirit, purging flame” and the second stanza of “O Love, how deep, how broad, how high.”
Also on this Sunday, the Psalm verse, “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters,” foreshadows Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism: “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased'.”