An epiphany is defined as a moment of insight. On January 6, twelve days after Christmas, the church celebrates The Epiphany. It commemorates when the Gentiles become part of the great Christmas story as the Wise Men from the east arrived with gifts to celebrate the birth of the Hebrew King! You could say that these Gentile kings started their journey as a result of an epiphany.
They were wise men but their wisdom came from somewhere beyond their intelligence. They had insight that others missed. The epiphany that led them to make their famous journey to Bethlehem had a divine source and revealed a divine purpose to the Christmas story. Even the gifts they brought (gold, frankincense and myrrh) were significant. The gift of gold symbolized that Jesus was King, the gift of frankincense showed His Divinity and the gift of myrrh foretold His death. Some guess that these gifts helped His poor family exist during their sojourn to Egypt before returning to Nazareth. The Wise Men exposed the lack of insight among the religious Jews since they had missed the calculations that all pointed to the birth of the Messiah. The Wise Men showed us how Gentiles are brought into the story. They give us the 12 Days of Christmas and a connection between Christmas and Lent in the church year. Most important of all the Wise Men show us how to respond to Jesus. “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him (Matthew 2:11).
Isaiah 60:1-6, 9, Ephesians 3:1-12, and Matthew 2:1-12 are the lessons chosen for Epiphany. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn (Isaiah 60:3) prophesies the now famous Christmas star of Epiphany. But my favorite lesson comes from Ephesians when Paul explains, “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:4-6). What a beautiful epiphany—the mystery of Christ’s salvation for both Jews and Gentiles has been revealed.
Don’t you want to be wise? Don’t you want to have an epiphany? How do you sign up for an epiphany? Have you ever had an epiphany? What can you do to prepare yourself for an epiphany? That’s the thing about an epiphany. It is not from you. It is a gift outside of you. It is a knowing put in your heart by wisdom itself. Open your soul to an epiphany by opening your heart to the mysteries of God, the One Who has given epiphanies to His people through all the ages.
Prayer for The Epiphany
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lies and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.