Although the Church year begins with the first day of Advent, in December, the Feast of Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, twelve days after the Feast of Christmas, and is the first feast of the new year. As one of the Major Feast Days** of the Episcopal Church, it is of major significance to the life of the Christian.
Epiphany is a fancy church word for the commemoration of the manifestation (appearance, revelation, or showing) of Christ to the Gentiles. The Biblical story we have recounts the visit of the Magi, or Kings, who followed the star to worship the Baby Jesus. From the Church’s point of view, it is Jesus who shows himself to the Magi, not the Magi who show themselves to Jesus. This is important because as Christians, we are interested in God’s actions toward us. God is the protagonist or star of the show, whose actions in history reveal His love and plan of salvation over and over. Epiphany is a Major Feast Day because God chose to reveal himself and his love not just to the Jews, or the someday Christians, but to all the people of the world – represented by the non-Jewish or gentile Kings. This is cause for a celebration!
Today, we use the word epiphany in everyday language to talk about times when we have a sudden insight or enlightenment about something that has been hidden or unknown to us.
As Christians, if we trust the words of Jesus when he says, “you are the light of the world,” we will see our role in the plan of God that we also reveal or manifest God to others — just as the Magi returned to their homes to share the Glory of God they saw in the face of the baby Jesus and live out the hope of God’s love for all people. (Matthew 5:14)
The Feast of Epiphany sets us up for the next season of the Church Year — Lent. In Lent, we participate in self-examination to remember why we are in need of God’s plan of salvation in the first place, and to reflect on our own witness of Christ in the world and ask, “How am I doing as a Light of Christ?”
Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35. God is love and God is light. In him there is no darkness at all. In him, there is nothing but love. How is his love showing or manifesting to you?
In what ways are you showing this love to others?**The other Major Feast Days are Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, and Christmas Day. BCP pg. 15-17