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January 4, 2024: Epiphany

The season of Epiphany begins each year on January 6. The word Epiphany, is from the Greek, ἐπιφάνεια, meaning ‘manifestation.’ It was first celebrated in the Eastern Church—long before the feast of Christmas was added to the calendar. It is called Theophany in the Eastern Church and recognizes the manifestation of Christ’s divinity at the baptism of our Lord by John the Baptist in the Jordon. 

In the Western Church, Epiphany also centers on the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God. While still commemorating the Lord’s baptism, the Western Church emphasizes the good news first proclaimed to the gentiles in the magi. In England, the King traditionally makes an offering of gold, frankincense, and myrrh at the Chapel Royal at Saint James Palace.

Sunday, we read this story of the magi, the wise men. The story at first seems odd. Their presence at the manger requires that God chose to speak to those outside of Israel to men who did not know Him. This is exactly what He does and what this season proclaims and celebrates. The promise given to Abraham, “… all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you,” (Genesis 12:3, CSB) begins its fulfillment. The world is now invited to the covenant promises: “… in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13, CSB). So, how should we celebrate? This season is one of light. Jesus said:

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16, CSB)

The Good News, which has been revealed, is now to be shared by the Church. The Great Commission is found five times in the New Testament. That commission is not primarily to increase attendance. We are charged to bring light to the darkness in our world. Our duty is to give hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless, and life to the lifeless. We who have received the great gift of life through Christ Jesus, have the joy of sharing the good news of great joy. God calls us to go to outsiders and invite them to be adopted into the family of God. Let us resolve to be doers of His word and not hearers only!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For look, darkness will cover the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the Lord will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to your shining brightness.” (Isaiah 60:1–3, CSB)


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