Epiphany: a moment of sudden revelation or insight.
January is the time of Epiphany, when we bask in the light that shows us the way to Jesus. Epiphany begins every year with the magi, the wise men, the kings, who followed that wild star all the way to Bethlehem. When the wild star stops moving, right over the place where the Christ child is staying, the magi are filled, overwhelmed with joy. It is as if that were their great moment. And this is what I find so intriguing about Epiphany. It is not an answer to all our questions. It is not an unveiling of the meaning of life. It is the light shining on this child. Here is our epiphany, our revelation – this is the one to watch. This is the one who brings the word of God to the whole world.
The wise men have come from afar to meet this child, but they have not come of their own accord. The magi were brought from afar. They were captured by this wild and wondrous star that takes them all the way to Jesus. It doesn’t explain a thing, but it shows them who to pay attention to.
And these moments of bringing us to Jesus is what happens every year; has been happening the whole Advent and Christmas season, hasn’t it? Zechariah and Elizabeth have been given the gift of parenthood for the express reason of bringing forth the news of another child. They give birth to a great prophet – the one whose words will make way for the one we really need to pay attention to. Mary and Joseph are called to give birth to, parent, and care for this child who will be love for the world. It begins with a small family: Elizabeth and Zechariah and their cousins Mary and Joseph. It extends to the community that Elizabeth and Zechariah serve, to the angels out in the fields, to the magi who come from afar, and eventually to all the world. The light is spreading: the news is out. Jesus is born.
It strikes me that epiphany tells us nothing more than this is the one. In that, there is no doubt. The dreams have been dreamt, announcements made, babies born, and now gifts given. But it is still the beginning. As we make our way through the Epiphany season, we will be brought to Jesus again and again. The light will shine when Jesus comes to John for baptism. The light will shine when the people come to Jesus for teaching, feeding, and healing. The light will shine when Jesus refuses violence and predatory power in exchange for love and forgiveness – for grace. The light will shine as the good news of God’s love for the whole world is spread by those who love and follow Jesus.
It seems to me, the best way for us to celebrate and take part in this season is to continue in the work of spreading Christ’s love to all those we meet. May the light of Christ lead us this Epiphany season.