Looking back to where we have been often helps us see the way forward and stay on course. We are well into our journey through Lent, but for just a moment, let’s take a look back at the season that recently came to a close.
Epiphany. Did you miss it?
Christmas rushes by in a blur and leaves us exhausted. We are so thankful for the lull between the holidays and Lent when we can rest and hunker down for the remainder of winter. Many of us miss Epiphany completely.
But Epiphany is where we live.
During Advent and Christmas, we remember the first coming of our Savior, and we prepare for His coming again. During Lent, Easter, and Pentecost, we recall His earthly ministry, His death, resurrection, and ascension, and finally, the sending of the Holy Spirit into the world to establish the Church and to empower us to live out the Great Commission as we await His second coming.
We remember, we prepare, and we wait. During most of the liturgical year, we think in terms of the past and the future.
Epiphany is experienced in the present tense. It is the chapter in God’s story in which we are the main characters, living out our lives in the time between the first and the second coming of Jesus.
At the opening to the season of Epiphany, we read about the Magi, those mystical sages who traveled westward in search of the long prophesied King of the Jews. For many of us, reading about the wise men signals the end of the Christmas season. That’s probably why we miss Epiphany. The coming of the Magi to worship Jesus actually marks the beginning of the season as well as the beginning of our part in God’s story.
Many legends are told about the Magi, but we really don’t know much about who they were, or where they came from, or even how many of them came. One thing we do know about them is that they were not Jewish. They were foreigners, gentiles, outsiders. And yet God beckoned them to come and meet Jesus. He invited them to be among the first to worship Jesus as King. We might also say they were the first missionary supporters, bringing valuable gifts that sustained the holy family during their exile in Egypt until the time when they could return to their hometown of Nazareth in preparation for a ministry that would change the world.
In our modern language, we use the word “epiphany” to mean a sudden insight or the realization of an important truth. When the Magi discovered Jesus and realized the truth about who He is, they bowed down and worshiped Him.
Epiphany is called the season of light, and the lectionary readings during Epiphany are all about discovering Jesus, the light of the world. The coming of the Magi to worship Jesus confirms Simeon’s proclamation that Jesus is a light to the gentiles and reveals God’s plan to draw people of all nations, tribes, and languages to Jesus. We are part of that plan.
Epiphany is where we live. We have moved on to the season of Lent in the church calendar year, but we never really leave Epiphany.
~Sharon Pullen is a member of Church of the Holy Cross in North Raleigh.