St. Luke's enters Epiphany with 'Burning of the Greens'
By Shavonne Potts
The night was cold, but the parishioners of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church still gathered to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany and later the “Burning of the Greens” service on the church grounds.
The annual event has taken place for more than 250 years, said the Rev. Whayne M. Hougland Jr.
The Tuesday night service marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas and the beginning of Epiphany season. It is typically celebrated each year on Jan. 6.
Epiphany in Greek means to manifest. During the service, ministers talk about the manifestation of the infant Christ to the world.
The Rev. Cecelia C. Schroeder spoke briefly about why the church celebrates the Epiphany.
“It’s not just a day, but a season,” she said.
Schroeder said Christians are called to tell others of Jesus.
“Epiphany reminds us our celebration of Christmas is over, but we must still remember to reveal Christ to those we encounter,” she said.
The evening included a number of scripture readings that hold significance to the ceremony, including the journey of the wise men to Bethlehem and the gifts they brought to Jesus.
During the service, incense is used to symbolize one of the gifts given to Jesus, frankincense. Prayers are given as is communion.
Following the service, parishioners assembled to burn the greens.
The greens are any garlands, wreaths or Christmas trees used in the church or in congregants’ homes.
“At the end of Christmastime we take the greens down. It’s a celebration of the changing of the season,” Hougland said.
Judy Newman, of Salisbury, has attended many of the services in years past.
“We learn about the Christ and his ministry,” she said.
Bob Fallis and his wife, Jane, have been members of the church for about a year, but they’ve also celebrated in years past.
“I’ve been an Episcopalian all my life. It’s a time to remind us to share Christ with other people,” Bob said.
The Fallises reside in Rowan County.
The church was unable to have the service last year because of the drought.
A pile of tree limbs sat beside the barrel and, one by one, members tossed in a few pieces. The fire and smoke leapt into the air.
Two firefighters from the Salisbury Fire Department stopped by the church to inquire about the fire, which was contained inside a barrel.
The service ended as church members said their goodbyes and the fire began to die down.
Epiphany lasts until the end of February, around the time of Lent.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253