Here’s A Thought for Jan. 5
‘What do you mean by ‘epiphany,’ exactly?’
“Epiphany,” when it’s capitalized, is the name of the major celebration within Christendom of the three wise men or Magi coming to see the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. This is usually celebrated on Jan. 6, which in the Western church calendar starts an Epiphany season that lasts until the first day of Lent. The Epiphany season is a season of new beginnings; after the visit of the Magi, church holy days and readings recount the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, and Jesus’ first public miracle at the wedding in Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.
Theologically and Scripturally the word “Epiphany” means manifestation of God in the flesh. We read “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Today “epiphany” carries a range of meanings, including “an intuitive grasp of reality,” “an illuminating discovery, realization, disclosure, or insight,” or simply “a revealing scene or moment.” One of my definition of an epiphany is a moment of sudden or great revelation that usually changes you in some way.
So, what does Epiphany or an epiphany mean to you as we enter this New Year of 2018?
For me …An epiphany means: “a realization of the importance of your relationship to God; an opening in your relationship to biblical spirituality; growing in your knowledge of God’s wisdom in the Bible; a “come to Jesus” moment that impacts you and changes you forever and you can remember it as vividly as you experienced it; a moment that changes the conceptual or scriptural lens through which you view your life; your inner being/spirit scratching around your head and giving you a signal to guide your lives with Scriptural values and morality; a moment of Christ-like descending light offered to you through his word and Sacraments.
An epiphany may mean….a drastic shift in energy and change of perspective that happens in the form of a moment of clarity after studying/reading God’s Word; prayerfully something that gives you the spiritual strength to take a different direction or move forward and opens up everything much like the Magi did as they following the Star of Bethlehem for two years; a sense of wonderment; a clarifying direction; and, that moment where you know your life is never going to be the same like “falling in love”; the letting go of past hurt feelings and a restoration of an broken relationship.
Thus, as we have entered the New Year may God’s Holy Spirit continue to bless our Epiphany celebration within our church families and may our nation have the good fortune of receiving many God spent “epiphanies” As we joyfully sing: Glory to God in highest heaven, Who unto us his son hath given! While angels sing with pious mirth a glad new year to all the earth. Amen.
Chopp is a chaplain emeritus, MDiv, BCC, from Marshall