You know that feeling of relief once the last of the pine needles have been swept up and you’ve gone on that initial New Year’s decluttering spree? There’s a calm hush to January and it does my temperament such good. But somewhere in between taking down the garland and having Easter grass clog up my vacuum cleaner, I have been missing out on the quiet Christian tradition of celebrating Epiphany. Maybe you have too?
It makes me wonder where have I been the whole time the worldwide church has been celebrating the liturgical year…but, I know where I’ve been. I’ve been experiencing the power of the Gospel inside the walls of wonderful Evangelical churches. And it’s been great. Truly transformative.
A couple years ago, two mentors were going about their normal liturgical business and I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of their practices. They kindly audienced my questions and pointed me to a few good resources to study on my own, and BAM! I quit rubbing the ashes off people’s foreheads on Ash Wednesday and I read at least 5 out of 25 Advent readings to my children. I’ve not even scratched the surface of understanding the heritage of these celebrations and feast days, (which is why I write–to assimilate and record what God’s teaching me) but I can say that they’ve become a delight to our family and an awesome way to celebrate the life of Christ together.
Do you celebrate Epiphany? I didn’t even know what the heck it was, till about a week ago, though, I am sure growing up I was told.
Here’s what I’ve gathered:
Epiphany, also known as “Three Kings Day” and “Twelfth Day,” is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.
The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the Gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God’s own Son. Likewise, on Epiphany some denominations commemorate Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine, signifying the manifestation of Christ’s divinity as well.
For the Church, the Epiphany represents a responsibility to reveal Jesus as the Divine Son and Savior sent by God the Father to atone for the sins of mankind. It is a time of healing and fellowship, where the Church comes together in the covenant of brotherhood to love one another as Christ commanded.
For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.
Tools For Celebrating Epiphany (When You’re Clueless)
With the help of the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner + podcast and several articles, (my favorite being Ruth Haley Barton’s that I posted to Facebook earlier this week), I feel like celebrating Epiphany is a simple way to transition from waiting for and then celebrating Jesus’ birthday, to then receiving vision and insight for a new year and responding with fresh intention and diligence.
For me, it’s looks like explaining the celebration to my kids as I learn about it myself. And it looked like taking a few days last week to work through my Powersheets and pray about what God wants to leave in the past and what boundary lines He would call me to in 2016. It’s also looking like dreaming of how I can respond to His wondrous dwelling among us and how I can be more effective in taking Him to my sphere of influence.
I am so quick to forget the Presence of Christ in my every day life. Engaging with the church calendar has helped me worship and adore Jesus in my mundane dailiness. And celebrating Epiphany has made me even more mindful and thankful that we have a baptized, miracle-working King who revealed Himself to some pagan astrologers all those years ago, so that you and I could draw near to Him afresh, all these years later.