After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.
January 6th is the day of Epiphany. It’s the date recognized 12 days after the 1st day of Christmas when we remember the story of the Magi, under the direction of Herod, visiting the Christ Child. It’s the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
There are traditions all around the globe that commemorate today in different ways. In New Orleans, the Christmas Tree decorations are often replaced with purple, gold and green decorations, creating a ‘Mardi Gras Tree’ and King Cake is often enjoyed.
At Epiphany in Belgium, children dress up as the three wise men and go from door to door to sing songs and people give them money or sweets, kind of like Trick or Treating on Halloween. Children in Poland also go out singing on Epiphany. In Ireland, Epiphany is also sometimes called 'Nollaig na mBean' or Women's Christmas. Traditionally the women get the day off and men do the housework and cooking! Sweet, right ladies?
The word 'epiphany' simply means 'showing' or 'shining forth.' Divine light shines forth from God’s very own self through the Christ Child.
Wherever we are right now, Epiphany reminds us that we can live our lives in a new light. Epiphany reminds us that Jesus, the Light of the World, has arrived in all his confounding and rule breaking ways and table-turning glory, helping us to see all things, and even ourselves, in new ways. As we birth a new time in history and a new year, may we be born anew in our dedication to living as God’s people and shining the Christ Light wherever we may be.
Holy and Loving God, show us your light that our path to you might be clear and that the journey might be one of joy and service for us and for all people. In Jesus' name we ask. Amen.
Pastor Michael Williams