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Epiphany: A Great Revealing

January 01 2018
January 01 2018

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As a child, I had a great fondness for Epiphany, or, as we called it in my house, Three Kings Day. I grew up hearing how my grandmother did not receive presents on the 25th of December, but rather she and her siblings had to wait until January 6th to receive gifts tucked into their shoes, which were placed at the foot of their beds. It was also considered borderline heresy to take your tree down before that day, and so in my home, our tree stays up until Epiphany. As a parent, I have sought meaningful ways to discuss this day and season with my children.

Epiphany means a sudden or great revealing or manifestation.  It is celebrated on January 6th, and lasts until the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday. It represents the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles—the Gentile’s Christmas.  The main theme of Epiphany is Jesus as the light of the world, revealed to all nations, including the Gentiles. 

Jesus is revealed to us and we celebrate his coming for all people, for all nations on this special day. The Star of Bethlehem, the one that the Wise Men or Magi followed as they sought the Christ-child, is a picture to us of God’s lovingkindness, and is one of the central symbols of Epiphany. The star demonstrates to us the foolishness and futility of trying to find Jesus on our own. Through the star, God does the leading, showing and revealing.  The Wise Men follow like little children.

The star also reminds us of God’s faithfulness. We see in the Old Testament God’s promise to Abraham that he would multiply Israel as numerous as the stars. We know that God is the Creator of lights in the sky to be a daily reminder to us of his faithfulness.

Psalm 136:7-9 (ESV)
To him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
The sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
The moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

The star points us to our future with Jesus. Jesus is called the Bright Morning Star. We can take heart that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it [John 1].”

What lessons can be learned from Epiphany and specifically the Wise Men? We learn to proclaim with them that Jesus is the very Son of God. We learn that if we seek the Lord, he will be found.  Today, we find Him in the Word and in the sacraments of the Church. We also see an immediacy and urgency in the search of the Magi for the King — we should feel the same urgency about following Christ today. And when they found him, they prostrated themselves, bringing their finest gifts. We too must humble ourselves in order to worship the True King.

If you haven’t contemplated including this date and season in your traditions, consider how you might highlight it in your family with scripture readings, songs, storybooks, crafts or even a special snack. Mark the day as special in some way, but keep it simple for sanity’s sake. Here are a few ideas:

• Incorporating stars, crowns, or camels into projects helps to focus kids on the meaning of the day. If you like crafting, make a paper crown or make popsicle stick stars with your children.
• If you enjoy cooking, you can bake (or buy) a King’s cake or use a star shaped cookie cutter for cookies or star-shaped sandwiches.
• Reading a simple children's book about it on that day is a way to focus our hearts. 

The traditions we keep become part of our children’s memories, and are handed down to future generations. And what wonderful news for the hearts of children that the joy of Christmas does not end on December 26th! It only continues, and culminates as we reflect upon God’s faithful lovingkindness to us, His people.


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