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