RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Choir members rehearsed Thursday for the "Festival of Lessons and Carols" at St. Andrew's Cathedral. The Cathedral Choir is composed of professional and volunteer singers.
Orthodox Anglicans celebrate Epiphany this month with music and introspection
In the secular world, Christmas is the culmination of shopping and partying that usually comes to a halt Dec. 25, the big day of frenzied gift opening.
Two Epiphany services will be held tomorrow evening and are free to the public.
» Cathedral at St. Andrew's, 5:30 p.m., "Epiphany Festival of Lessons and Carols." Located in downtown Honolulu, corner of Beretania and Alakea/Queen Emma streets. Call 524-2822, ext. 217.
» Church of the Crossroads, 7 p.m., "Epiphany Celebration of Light," includes readings, dance and a public sing-along of Holden Evening Prayer, led by Don Conover. Located at 1212 University Ave., near former Varsity Theatre. Call 949-2220.
Unfamiliar to most is that Jan. 6, the first day of Epiphany (Greek for "to make known"), is the climax of the Christmas season for orthodox Anglican churches, said the Rev. Barbara Grace Ripple, a retired United Methodist Church minister.
The monthlong Epiphany season is "a celebration of light" emitted from the star that led the Magi (the Three Wise Men) to Jesus' birthplace, and it symbolizes hope in the face of darkness or "the light of Christ within us," said Ripple, who also served as UMC superintendent in Guam, Saipan and Hawaii.
Ripple is taking part in the Church of the Crossroads' "Epiphany Celebration of Light," one of two free musical services tomorrow evening to which the public is invited. The second is being held by the St. Andrew's Cathedral Choir, led by John Renke, the church's new music director from San Francisco.
"We've always looked at Jesus as the Light of the World, the Son of God," who came to save men and women of all races, whether they were rich like the Magi or poor like the shepherds who were also led to Jesus, she said.
Although it is uncertain if Jesus was in fact born Dec. 25, the Twelve Days of Christmas (Dec. 25 to Jan. 5) and Epiphany became a tradition celebrated "at the darkest time of the year (winter) in a world surrounded by war, sadness and pain. The pain may be a personal pain or grief, or (in a broader sense) that people are dying in Iraq," Ripple said.
"We look at the birth of Christ in our hearts as well as into the world. ... There's a saying: It's better to light one candle than to stumble in the darkness," meaning that one person might not make much of a difference, but "together we can empower the whole world. If you have Christ in your heart, you are bringing light to the world," she said.
St. Andrew's will present its first "Epiphany Festival of Lessons and Carols" this year, featuring the Cathedral Choir, composed of professional and volunteer singers, and Hawaii's largest pipe organ, Renke said.
An organist, conductor and composer, Renke started working at St. Andrew's in April to invigorate the music ministry as well as the cathedral's role in the community. The church was once the cultural and religious center of society for centuries, he added.
"Music is a great window for people. (The cathedral) is a beautiful building with superb acoustics and is one of the most beautiful treasures of Hawaii. It should be shared," he said.
The first Lessons and Carols service was created in 1880 by E.W. Benson, later archbishop of Canterbury, and held on Christmas Eve in Truro, England, in a wooden shed, according to Renke.
He founded the internationally acclaimed Schola Cantorum San Francisco at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, and continues as its director emeritus. Renke most recently held positions in the San Francisco Bay Area's prestigious Grace Cathedral and St. Mary's Cathedral.