When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him….
At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
All about this day
Epiphany is a Greek word that means “manifestation,” a “revelation.” The holiday celebrates two manifestations of God:
- The magi rejoice when they see the star and worship Jesus to whom the star leads. They present gifts to God, who is revealed, born in the baby. God is with us in our bodies.
- When Jesus is baptized and John the Baptist reports hearing the voice of God naming Jesus as his own Son. Jesus is public revealed as God with us. God is with us in our sin.
In the history of the church, the holy day called Epiphany went two routes. As the church became separated during the turbulent time after the fall of the western Roman Empire in the late 400’s, the churches in the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean developed separate identities. You can trace them through the Eastern “Orthodox” churches and the Roman “Catholic” church. In the Roman Catholic Church, Epiphany is usually celebrated on the Sunday between January 2-8. If you want to follow the traditional twelve days of Christmas, you celebrate it on January 6. The orthodox Churches have the same idea but on different days.
The different days came about like this. In the late 1500s Pope Gregory declared a new calendar to correct the inaccuracies in the old Julian calendar (which dated to Julius Caesar in 45BC). The Gregorian calendar added 12 days to the year and reset the functional spring equinox to March 21 so Easter could be properly observed. Most civil authorities eventually adopted the calendar, although it took 300 years for Greece to conform.
Some Orthodox Churches still date events according to a revised Julian calendar. It is part of their identity. So many, but not all, Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on or near what is January 7 in the Gregorian calendar. As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or the equivalents mark December 25 and January 6 on what, for the majority of the world, is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, many people in Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what is, in the Gregorian calendar, January 7.
All this goes to show that being revealed is not that easy for God! Being born among humankind is subject to our politics and science. We might consider the date to celebrate Epiphany to be more important than the reason for the celebration! We might divide up the church over an obvious change that needs to be made in the calendar just because we do not respect the person who suggested the change. It might take us a long time to get to the place we should have started: worshiping at the manger and hearing the voice of God at the baptism.
An article with a lot more: http://www.crivoice.org/cyepiph.html
Young man tells us to look for the “hidden” Jesus on Epiphany. [link]
A priest describes the manifestations, or “epiphanies” of the Lord we celebrate during the Epiphany season.
Taylor Swift’s pandemic nurses/Guadalcanal soldiers song could easily have Jesus getting born and baptized into our mess. She often has wisps of faith in her music. “Soon You’ll Get Better” from the Lover album voices her feelings about her mother’s health crisis: “Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too.” What do you think?
What do we do with this?
Appreciate the epiphanies experienced by the wise men and John the Baptist. They happened a long time ago, but that history is yours, too. It happened to the whole human race when it happened the first time! We are invited into what God did in Jesus when we remember and allow ourselves to be part of the story.
Appreciate your own personal epiphanies. God has become known to you in many ways, large and small. The Spirit of God is revealed in creation, in the stories about how others know and serve her, in teaching and practical applications of the Bible, in the people of the church, and in our personal experiences with God spirit to Spirit. Maybe you could write an account of how you had an “Aha!” moment, how you came and worshiped or how you heard the voice of God.