Happy Epiphany everyone!
Huh? What on earth is that? What are you talking about Isaac? Epiphany?!
It’s one of my favorite seasons of the entire Christian year and a great opportunity to experience Jesus in new and fresh ways. Let me explain:
Epiphany is part of the Christian calendar year, marking the official end of Christmastide. In fact, it starts 13 days after Christmas Day, on January 6. The 12 days prior (December 25 – January 5)? That’s your 12 days of Christmas – yes, those 12 days of Christmas.
This means, by the way, that according to Christian tradition you shouldn’t take your Christmas decorations down until Epiphany Eve – January 5. That’s your free tip for the day (and all you procrastinators out there can thank me).
The word English word “epiphany” is a cognate of the Greek word epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation” or “appearance”, and is therefore the season of the Christian calendar year where we celebrate the manifestation of Jesus to not just the Jews, but the Gentiles as well, represented by the magi (however many of them there actually were) who came to visit Jesus at some point after his birth.
(NOTE: For Eastern Christians, Epiphany is the commemoration of Jesus’ baptism, his manifestation to the whole world as God’s son.)
In the season of Advent and Christmastide, the appearance of Jesus is represented by the white Christ Candle that we light on Christmas Eve. Light is then taken from that candle and spread throughout the sanctuary to the individual candles of those gathered, representing the spread of the good news of Jesus to the watching world.
The light of the Christ Candle continues to burn through Epiphany and Lent as we prepare for Easter. Then, at a Good Friday service, the last candle extinguished before we all leave in darkness and silence is that very same Christ Candle, representing the light and life of Jesus being snuffed out on the cross.
But there is good news! We get to re-light that same candle just days later on Easter morning, celebrating the return to life of the promised Savior, the Messiah come to earth. The re-ignition of the Christ Candle signals victory over death for all time.
What does this mean for us in 2023?
This Epiphany season, as we celebrate the manifestation of Jesus to all the peoples of the world, I challenge you with two things:
This Epiphany season (Friday, January 6 – Tuesday, February 21 or Mardi Gras / Fat Tuesday), when you wake up, pray a simple prayer asking Jesus to continue to reveal himself to you every day. Allow yourself to take joy in the fact that Jesus came to earth for all people – Jews and Gentiles alike.
Spread the news! Just like the spread of the light of Christ throughout the room on Christmas Eve, how can you share the good news of Jesus’ epiphany (or manifestation) to all those around you? Ask Jesus to reveal opportunities for you this Epiphany Season to share his good news: that he came to earth in the form of human for the good of all of humanity.