Epiphany – While many know it as the day marking 12 days after Christmas and the time to take down the Christmas tree and decorations; it’s actually a holiday with significant meaning. Let’s take a look at the origin and traditions of this holiday
What is Epiphany?
Epiphany means “appearance or manifestation.” Throughout the world, Christians celebrate it on January 6 – 12 days after Christmas Day. Many countries refer to it as “Three Kings Day.” On this day, Western Christianity recognizes Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles. The Gentiles, represented when the Magi visited the child Jesus and show how God’s gift of the Good News is for all people. Eastern Christianity observe Jesus’ baptism on this day. His baptism revealed his identity to mankind. In the East or the West, Epiphany celebrates God Revealing himself to the world.
History and Traditions of Epiphany –
Since epiphany means manifestation, early celebrations honored any of the four manifestations of Christ. His birth, the adoration of the Magi, Jesus’ baptism, and the first miracle at Cana were Jesus turned water into wine.
These four manifestations reveal God to mankind. At his birth, the angels bore witness and the shepherds, representing Israel, bowed before Jesus. The visit of the Magi revealed Jesus’ to Gentiles. At his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended, and God declared Jesus’ identity. And the first miracle at the Wedding in Cana, revealed Jesus’ divinity over nature. God disclosed himself to humankind through the person of Jesus. He made himself known so we might know him.
Pointing our Hearts Toward Jesus –
One of the many reasons to love this time of year is because of the daily, physical reminders of Jesus everywhere. The twinkly lights on your Christmas tree remind you of the angels announcing Christs birth to the shepherds. You are minded to shine bright in your everyday life each time you walk by your lit tree. The star ornaments points your mind to the star that led the wise men on their two-year journey. This is a gentle reminder, that sometimes, following Christ means you don’t know where you will end up, but if you keep following him, you will get to where you want to be. The tree is in shape of a triangle which remind you of the Trinity. The nativity display brings the reality of the stable close to your heart. The music that plays everywhere helps corral your thoughts and fixes them on Jesus. Epiphany, the manifestation of God, is a lovely opportunity to rejoice that Christ has appeared for all men and women regardless of race or status.
A Prayer for Epiphany –
Thank you for revealing yourself to us. We shout for joy and worship you with gladness. We come before with joyful songs and join with the angels as they say, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men.” We receive your peace and comfort. We ask that as we continue into the new year that we would remember your divinity and revel in your identity. You are a miracle working God, and so we ask you to do a mighty work of internal transformation in our life. Change us to be more like you. Let our words and the mediation of our hearts be pleasing to you. Just as the wise men followed the star, so we commit to following you. Lead and guide us. Comfort and heal us. Let our hearts be set on you as you reveal more and more of yourself to us. We adore you and give you glory.
In your name, Amen.