epiphany [reframe series].

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey. 

Epiphany
(Also known as Three Kings’ Day or Feast of Theophany)

Epiphany Star

What is it? A holy day in the Christian calendar/liturgical year. Some also recognize it as a season of Ordinary Time in the liturgical year.

What day does it fall on? January 6 (13 days after Christmas)

What season are we in? Epiphany/Ordinary Time (January 6 to February 9, 2016)

What’s this day all about?
Epiphany (“to show”/”to reveal”/”to make known”) is a celebration of the gospel being for all people, of Christ coming not only for the Jews but also the Gentiles (hallelujah!). “Western Christians celebrate the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, while Eastern Christians celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist” (Sacred Ordinary Days). The star revealed the Son of God to the Magi, and the Magi’s response to Jesus revealed that He is Lord over all.

What’s the history of this celebration?
Epiphany was celebrated as early as the 300s A.D. and has since been observed in a multitude of ways. Some view it as an entire season, beginning the day after Christmastide ends and concluding the day before Lent/Ash Wednesday. For those who view Epiphany as a season, it is a season that also contains other holidays – Baptism of the Lord (January 10), Presentation of the Lord (February 2) and Transfiguration of the Lord (February 7).

So, how could we observe it?

  • Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.
  • Read the Lectionary texts.
  • Pray “the Collect” for Epiphany.
  • Write “20+C+B+M+16” over your doorway in chalk. The first and last two slots refer to the year, and the letters refer to the traditional names of the Magi – Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior. The letters also function as an abbreviation of “Christus manionem bendicat,” which means “Christ bless this house.” This page features a blessing to pray while writing/marking.
  • Bake a Kings’ Cake.
  • Light a candle in the darkness of the morning or evening, symbolizing the star in the dark night which led the Magi to the Christ-child.

What’s it to me?
Some of the themes associated with Epiphany are journey, rhythm and manifestation. These words infuse me with such hope as I reflect on Epiphany and realize that the journey toward, with and led by Jesus has been a marker of those who call Him Lord, for centuries, millennia. “Rhythm” is a deeply meaningful word to me right now, as seen by its inclusion in the subtitle of this series, and I am drawn to ponder its meaning and implications even more during the season of Epiphany. Manifestation, oh my, this one could be (has been) an entire book. The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. The True Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. Immanuel, God with us. Just as the Magi recognized the Christ Child, just as John the Baptist knew the One Who was greater than him because he was before him, Jesus was made manifest that we might know Him, worship Him, be saved by Him. He descended, manifested, offered Himself up to death that we may journey toward Him, with Him, in Him.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Epiphany celebrates the Son of God becoming a man. Whether the celebration reflects upon the visit of the Magi or the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, it calls us to remember the One Who made His dwelling among us, Who is the fullness of grace and truth and Who came for us. The soul of Epiphany is not merely that Jesus came, but that He came and we know for certain Who He is – He is Lord.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

  • What has your experience been with the Christian calendar, liturgy, holy days, etc.?
  • What are your ideas for observing Epiphany?
  • Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar pique your curiosity?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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Author: Abby Perry

Abby has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, Upwrite Magazine, and The Influence Network. She is the communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts—one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations and one supporting area foster and adoptive families. Abby graduated from Texas A&M University and currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her family live in College Station, Texas.

6 thoughts on “epiphany [reframe series].”

  1. I grew up going to an episcopal school where chapel was held daily (with the daily offices) and holy days were observed as they came along. I always thought of epiphany as one of the first times Jesus was worshipped openly and outwardly here on earth.

    Rhythm: I like this word too. This past year I read “Busyness” by Kevin DeYoung and he talks about our weeks being a rhythm of work and rest, and how creating physical space between the two makes both times set apart for its specific duty and more successful. I think there’s something to that with the church calendar – days and periods of celebration and feasting interspersed throughout days and periods of ordinary time. As we move through the year and actually observe these cycles I’m interested to see what the sacred/holy times call us to do vs. the ordinary days, and where the Church has been set into motion to work, fast, feast, celebrate, rejoice, mourn and rest. Just seeing those words and having a specific time for them (like Ecclesiastes preaches) gives my busy heart a sigh of relief. Perhaps all of these sentiments were meant to each have their own place at the table instead of all muddled in our souls together.

    Great post, as always!

    1. Amen, my friend, such rich words. I’m considering the interspersing and rhythms deeply today as I celebrate Epiphany and have a relatively “easy” day ahead. But when Ordinary Time is in full swing next week, I’ll be called to some of my hardest, most exhausting work – caring for Gabriel after surgery. It gives me great joy to know that the Spirit is in the rest and celebration as well as the work and days of being so very down in the weeds of life.

  2. Abby!! Thank you again for this. I love Epiphany because it reminds us to keep the celebration going…to continue to praise our coming King. I don’t know much about celebrating the “baptism of John the Baptist” but I do love the imagery of the Three King’s celebration. I need to look into the baptism more.
    We added the blessing over our door last year but my book that has the numbers and prayer is still boxed up from our move. I’m so grateful for your blog today.
    For me, studying the church calendar and working through liturgy brings me to a place of reflection and brings me inward for some reason. Not sure, maybe your blog series will trigger my “why.” But I do love how, ironically, it is something new and fresh for me to study THOUGH it obviously is an age old aspect of Christianity.
    LOVING this Abby. Keep GOING!! Hugs!

    1. You are such an encourager, and I always love your thoughts, Sarah! I find that the study of liturgy brings me inward as well, perhaps because the demands of life are always calling us outward? This morning as I lit our Holy Day candle I found myself so desiring to grasp more moments for centering and reflection.

  3. Abby, the interesting thing is that my cleaning lady just this morning told me that they had celebrated Three Kings Day and I was completed unfamiliar with it. She told me a little about it, but, of course, did not know all that you explained here. I grew up Methodist, so I am familiar with the liturgical calendar somewhat. And in my high school years prior to becoming a Christian in college, I went for a bit to the Eastern Orthodox Church, mainly because of my Lebanese heritage, and they, of course, are very liturgical. However, the fact that I have celebrated these liturgies does not mean I knew the history of them or the true meaning. I’m enjoying your series so much and looking forward to reading more of it throughout the year. Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series. I hope you’ll share some of your experiences in liturgical settings with us as the series continues!

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