Epiphany

Epiphany–from Greek meaning manifestation or appearance.

Matthew 2:11 “They saw the child with Mary his mother and falling on their knees they worshiped him…”

I grew up in a Christian home learning the stories of Scripture and receiving the gospel as a personal invitation to salvation as a mere child. In fact, one of my favorite things about my parents is their dynamic pursuit of Jesus. I also grew up in a missional home, one that saw the sharing of God’s good message with those who had never heard as an imperative.

So I wonder how I missed the celebration of Epiphany. Perhaps because of its orthodox roots, or its establishment by the Catholic church, it was not a holiday that our family knew much about.

But in recent years I’ve given some thought and study to this holiday–celebrated on January 6th and sometimes called, “The visit of the wise men.” I’m all for celebrating, especially celebrations that fill us with a deeper appreciation and value for God’s great work on our behalf.  And this holiday certainly qualifies as that.

Epiphany means a manifestation or appearing. The magi–wise men from the far east, came looking for that appearing. They knew this King of the Jews was a person worth celebrating. And the star in the heavens was their sign, their guide on their journey west. It is amazing to me, that a people from a pagan land, understood the sign God gave, and felt compelled to follow it. It is amazing to me that eastern wise men would bow to a King of a foreign, subjugated land. It is amazing to me that these men, likely the aristocracy of their culture, would travel for months–possibly even years–to find this King. The magi narrative is for me the most stunning of the advent story, not only because the wise men knew something many people miss– that this Child was worth dropping everything and running after; not merely because of the grandeur with which they worshiped, but because God’s plan, God’s divine initiative included people from far-off lands from the very beginning! And this story makes that evident.

The roots of celebrating the holiday known as Epiphany is the awareness that this visit from the wise men, is the first physical story in the Gospel narrative that includes non-Jews as worshipers of Jesus! Every Gentile Christian should celebrate this epiphany with joy and delight, because it was the confirmation that this Jesus was great news “for ALL people.” And every Jewish Christian should celebrate with great joy and delight as well, because it is the fulfillment of God’s prophecy to their father Abraham, “In you, all nations of the world will be blessed!” ALL nations! ALL people! Blessed by God, through the Jewish people. That’s the manifestation, the light, the appearing of Epiphany! And that is most certainly worth celebrating not just on January 6 each year, but every day. Jesus is good news for everyone! The wise men knew it, and they dropped everything to run and worship! Oh, that we would do the same!

 


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