If someone were to ask you that question, what would you say? I could say – that’s January 6th each year; I could also say – that’s the Sunday closest to January 6th. I could also say – that’s a season of the church year, its length depending on how early or late Easter is that year. (In 2014 we will have a longer Epiphany season – all through January and February.)
The word ‘Epiphany’ has Greek origins, and means a sudden or striking realization, a new realization or understanding. We could use that word quite apart from its Christian use. In Christianity, Epiphany generally refers to Jesus being revealed as the Son of God, making an epiphany for those who come to this understanding. As a day, Epiphany traditionally refers to Jesus’ glory being revealed to the Magi, these non-Jewish sages who come to Bethlehem to worship the one born to be king of the Jews. There they see the one who is both fully human and fully divine, Jesus Christ, and they kneel in worship, and offer their gifts. The Magi have a big epiphany.
Personally I love this festival, how God’s glory shines to people who are so different from all the others who have met the infant Jesus. It’s a strong reminder to me of the wideness of God’s mercy, reaching every far flung part of the earth, including my homeland. (At the time of writing, a lunch is being planned for Epiphany Sunday – inviting Nepalese people who garden at our church and come to ESL, to lunch in the Haimerl Center after the 11:15 worship service that day.) I think this is a very fitting
Epiphany event. I wonder what epiphanies we might have as we hear some stories from these refugees.
The Sunday following Epiphany Sunday is called Baptism of our Lord Sunday. Again God’s glory is revealed as the voice from heaven speaks and the dove descends on Jesus. Then through the Epiphany season we have Gospel stories from Jesus’ ministry, firstly his calling of disciples to follow him. Then there is a focus on Jesus’ teaching – with a number of Sundays focused on the Sermon on the Mount. The Epiphany season concludes with the transfiguration – Jesus’ glory revealed on the mountain to Peter, James and John. From this high point, we move into the season of Lent, with Ash Wednesday on March 5.
My prayer is that this season will really be an epiphany also for you – seeing Jesus’ glory revealed to you, and to all people. May you sense again Jesus’ call to you to follow as his disciple. May you seek to more fully know his kingdom way in this new year of 2014.
Peace and love,
- Pastor Tim
JANUARY SCRIPTURE READINGS
January 4—Matthew 2:1-12
January 11—Mark: 1:4-11
January 18—John 1:43-51
January 25—Mark 1:14-20