Of all the religious holidays we celebrate, I have come to resonate most deeply with Epiphany. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Epiphany as “January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ.” For Western Christians, this is the day that three wise men or Magi, guided by a star, discovered the baby Jesus, born in a barn to poor people who soon became refugees to protect Jesus from the murderous King Herod.
January 6 – Epiphany – is the day Christians celebrate the light in the darkness. How very terrible that it is now inextricably bound up with the day a mob descended on the US Capitol with murderous intent to stop the certification of electoral college votes in the 2020 Presidential election.
And yet, because the vile act of January 6, 2021 happened on Epiphany, I find it even more important to remember the message of Epiphany. The Magi were not Jews, they were Gentiles, and yet they traveled far to find a new revelation of God in the Jewish baby Jesus. They bridged divides and hardships to join in this revelation, this new light in the world.
The word epiphany comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary further defines the manifestation as:
1. especially of a divine being
2. a usually sudden manifestation or perception
of the essential nature or meaning of something
3. an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
4. an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
5. a revealing scene or moment
Maya Angelou's defines
Epiphany as “the occurrence when the mind, the body, the heart, and the soul
focus together and see an old thing in a new way."
Epiphany brings me new
hope because it affirms that there is always the possibility of something new
happening in our thoughts, in our lives, and in the world. We just need to pay attention. We need a spiritual contemplative, meditative
practice to help us be attentive. We
need our spiritual practice to ground us where our hope truly resides, in the
“power of love and renewal that lives within the universe, the Holy Spirit, the
Spirit of God.” (Sallie McFague). Jesus
as Prophet shows us that “God offers us quiet, contemplative eyes; God also
calls us to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and sufferings of
our world – both at the same time.” (Richard Rohr)
Christians, Epiphany is not just one day, but the beginning of a season that
lasts until the first day of Lent. For
me, the Epiphany season is one of new beginnings, new hope, bringing light to
the word, and a time to focus on the attributes of my God in the world -
kindness, strength, hospitality, equality, creativity, beauty, truth,
Epiphany asks me these questions: How am I doing as the manifestation of these attributes in my life? How can I bring more of these things into my life? How is my spiritual practice supporting me? How attentive am I to Spirit’s message of love in the midst of my own pain and the sufferings of the world? How can I bring the light of Epiphany into the world?
Copyright 2024 Constance B. Yost. All rights reserved.