There are three traditional feast days that the global Church has historically celebrated. You could probably guess two of them (Christmas and Easter), but do you know the third? It’s Epiphany, traditionally observed on January 6th each year. The date marks the end of the twelve-day celebration of Christmas (hence the famous song), and the name comes from the Greek word for “manifestation”.
Some Christian traditions use the day to commemorate the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12), when it was first made manifest that Jesus had come to bring light to the nations. Other Christian traditions use the day to commemorate the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11), when the identity of Jesus as the Son of God was made manifest. With either emphasis, we are reminded to turn our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ, looking to the one who is fully God and fully man, come to redeem for himself a people from every tribe and nation.
It’s an appropriate reminder at the start of a new year, because it is so easy for us to turn our attention and adoration elsewhere. We may look back and reflect upon what was or we may look ahead and set goals and resolutions about the things we want to accomplish. These aren’t bad in and of themselves, though it can be very easy to become consumed by things that are fleeting at best and idolatrous at worst.
The Psalms call us to a different posture and priority when they say, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 119:37). Epiphany, then, sets before us the thing that is of ultimate worth: the Son of God, who brings light and life to the nations.
Throughout the recent Advent season, we focused on the fact that our God is not one who remains distant and hidden. Our God has come to us, made his dwelling among us, and reveals his glory to the nations in the person of Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As we enter this new year together, let’s fix our hearts and minds upon this.
Grace and peace,