The Season of Epiphany is the third season of the church year, and the best way to describe the season’s meaning is this: Epiphany means Making God Manifest. God is manifested in His son, the Christ Child, who is then revealed to the Magi (the Three Wise Men) and, as such, to the world.
What is an epiphany? This term is widely used to describe a “light-bulb moment” or a sudden realization, as when something hits us in our realm of awareness that we may not have clearly seen or acknowledged previously.
When I think about the season of Epiphany as celebrated in the Episcopal Church, I think of a couple of things. I think of the Magi, who, according to Scripture, actually visited with King Herod and discussed that they were looking for the child who was recently born king of the Jews. They had seen the star which they knew signified the birth and identified the location of the child, for it had been written by the prophet. They wanted to worship the child. King Herod tells them that he is unaware of such a child; BUT, when they find the child to let him know. He, too, wants to pay homage to such a king. The good news is that after the Magi found and visited the child, they had an epiphany. They were warned in a dream that it would not be wise to let King Herod know of the child’s whereabouts, so they went back home via another route.
The second thing that comes to mind is that the Magi’s acknowledgement of the Christ Child and their actual visit made this happening of the Child’s birth really real. Here was royalty, The Three Kings, acknowledging the manifestation of God through Christ to the Gentiles. They brought gifts that they would normally share with their rich counterparts, and when they saw the Child of meager means, they did not run looking for a palace or riches and fine cloths, but they presented him with the expensive gifts, fell upon their knees, and worshipped him. Can’t you see them in the moment having yet another epiphany?
The Season of Epiphany is celebrated from January 6, which is the 12th day of Christmas, until Lent begins. During this time, we celebrate the revelation — the epiphany–, of God on this earth. We acknowledge that the light of the world has come! As Episcopalians, we celebrate the Baptism of Christ during this season and reaffirm our Baptismal Covenant. We also celebrate other events in the life and ministry of Jesus, such as his first miracle of changing water into wine, and other firsts. These events reveal Jesus as God’s son and help us further understand why it is important for him to be revealed to the world. Not to reduce the significance of the season at all; but, to put it in easily understood terms: this is the season of opportunity for additional “light bulb” moments while studying the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Enjoy the Season of Epiphany.
Mathew 2:1-12, Holy Bible, The New King James Version, 1990 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., Nashville, TN
The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year, ©1998 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York