Thursday, January 6, 2011

What the Epiphany?

So I don't normally blog on holidays, but I am making an exception for all of you today.  But seriously, today January 6th is in fact a church holiday/celebration/festival.  You may not have known that.  Don't feel bad, you are certainly not alone.  
I think if truth be told, Epiphany lumped together with the Transfiguration as sometimes noticed-often forgotten-rarely understood dates on the Christian calendar.  
Full disclosure: it was not until my last year of Seminary that I was able to think about Epiphany without first googling it to refresh my memory about what we were supposed to be celebrating.   Don't tell anyone, because I am a minister and I'm just supposed to know these things.  But anyway.
So what is Epiphany about?  It is the day that is set aside (or at least marked on lots of calendars) to celebrate the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ.  At least that is what Wikipedia says, and they usually get this stuff right.  It is really about marking and celebrating the incarnation of God.  
When you think about it that way, shouldn't we at least care a little bit?  Maybe we just lump this 'celebration' in with Christmas and call it a day.  I don't know.  Really, why do we need Christmas and Epiphany, aren't they pretty closely related and basically the same thing?  
Maybe, but maybe Epiphany is actually important in what is different about it.  On this day we are celebrating Christ's coming and incarnation, yes, but we are also celebrating the revelation of just who - the very God and creator of the universe - this person is.
This day we call Epiphany (epiphany, get it?) the is as much about our seeing and acknowledging Jesus for who he really is - God incarnate.  
That would seem to me to be pretty important, right?  
Now, I don't think that we should be holding our breath, hoping for next January 6th off from work or should we go out looking for just the right Epiphany gifts for all of our friends (what would be a good Epiphany gift anyway?), but the more I think about Epiphany the more I think it really does matter.
Heres why: God is present and active in our lives, in our schools and workplaces, in our community and in the world.   That is a fact, whether we acknowledge it or not.  But acknowledging that fact does matter.  When we recognize Jesus Christ present in our lives, we can then share that knowledge or revelation (or epiphany!) with those around us.  Sharing God's work, grace and love in our lives so that others might have a saving encounter with Jesus as well.
Without the historical Epiphany (the one we celebrate on January 6th) Christmas is just another story of a poor child born to a poor mother into a oppressed people.  Without Epiphany no one would have been paying attention to just who got crucified during that one passover 2000 years ago.  
Without having a epiphany of who Jesus is and what he is doing in, around and through us in our own lives it is impossible to point to him so that others might have their own revelation of God drawing near to them.  
Muddled as they may be, those are my thoughts for this Epiphany.  
May you see Jesus Christ clearly this day for who he is, what he is and where he is present and active in your life and this world.  

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