Today, January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany, the day the Church marks the visit of the wisemen (“magi”) to the baby Jesus. These Eastern sages had studied the stars and traveled far to find the child, bringing him those famous gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the infant Jesus as king, priest, and martyr.
This day serves as a liturgical hinge point, bringing the Christmas season to a close and beginning the next phase of liturgical time, “The Season after the Epiphany,” which will run all the way until Lent.
The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek word for “manifestation” and appropriately this season focuses on the way in which Jesus is “manifest,” or acknowledged and embraced by people as the Christ, the Messiah. The first Sunday after the Feast of Epiphany (which is this coming Sunday) always celebrates the baptism of Jesus, which was one of the major points of manifestation of Jesus’ identity as the Christ. For after coming up out of the water The Spirit of God anoints him as “my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
In honor of The Baptism of our Lord, this Sunday we will all renew our baptismal vows, a good practice at any time, but especially at the outset of a new year; a chance to remind ourselves of the promises we have made for how we will manifest the presence of Christ in our words and deeds.
The Season after the Epiphany then continues with readings which will focus on the early days of Jesus’ ministry as people begin to notice, listen to, follow, and acknowledge him as Lord. We will hear some of their stories and some of the most fundamental teachings of the one who manifested God most fully in our world.
This season will conclude, as it always does, with the story of the Transfiguration, one of the other key moments of affirmation for Jesus’ divinity in the midst of his humanity. Throughout these weeks, the hope is that, with the light of Christ having been born in us at Christmas, we will find ways for our lives to give witness to that light. For the question the Epiphany asks of us all is How is the presence of Christ being manifest in you?
I look forward to working and walking and worshipping with you over these coming weeks as together, we all determine our own answer to that essential question.
See you Sunday,