Happy New Year!
It seems like 5 minutes ago that I was writing a note for January 2017! But here we are in the season of Epiphany.
Epiphany is one of those interesting words, a dictionary entry notes that Epiphany is:
- The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).
- The festival commemorating the Epiphany on 6 January.
- A manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.
- A moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation.
Epiphany celebrates the visit to the baby Jesus by The Magi, (also widely referred to as the three Kings, or Wise Men). It also celebrates ‘the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ’. According to Matthew’s Gospel, the Magi found baby Jesus by following a star across the desert to Bethlehem. Matthew’s account speaks simply of ‘wise men from the east’; later tradition fixed their number at three, made them kings and recalled their resonant names – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The wise men – offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gifts were symbolic of the importance of Jesus’ birth, the gold representing his royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality. A king who was fully divine yet fully human.
In church, we don’t just celebrate Epiphany on January 6th but recognise Epiphany as a season lasting until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
So, in the church we celebrate the first 3 parts of the definition.
But there is also the 4th part, ‘A moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation’. We can all experience an epiphany at any point in our lives, whether that epiphany is to do with our personal or professional lives, or whether it is the moment of realisation of the truth of God’s presence in our lives. I am often asked if my personal epiphany was a dramatic one, a moment of divine revelation just for me. It wasn’t that exciting, but it was a slow drip, drip, drip of experiences that built into a recognition that I was loved by my creator, that I was God’s precious child, and that God had a purpose for my life, so my epiphany was definitely a long season rather than just a day. So why am I sharing this with you? Well my hope and prayer is that, whether it is an amazing flash of recognition, or a slow burning realisation, that however it happens, you do realise that you are special, you are unique, you are God’s beloved child and that this season of epiphany is a great start to a very happy and healthy 2018.