As the new calendar year begins for 2021, our Christian calendar also experiences a change as we enter the season of Epiphany which begins on January 6. It follows the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are counted from December 25th until January 5th. The day before Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, and is sometimes called Twelfth Night, an occasion for feasting in some cultures.
In this calendar, we move from the expectation and anticipation of Advent to the celebration of the Nativity at Christmas to Epiphany, which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity.
The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal.” It remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing “reveal” Jesus to the world as Lord and King. The colors of Epiphany are usually the colors of Christmas, white and gold, the colors of celebration, newness, and hope that mark the most sacred days of the church year.
Epiphany has theological significance as a teaching tool in the church. The Wise men or Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as “King” and so were the first to “show” or “reveal” Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ. This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s blessing that this child Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few.
The day is now observed as a time of focusing on the mission of the church in reaching others by “showing” Jesus as the Savior of all people. It is also a time of focusing on fellowship and being people of the light.
As we embrace this season, may God’s gift of life and light through Christ shine in our hearts as we walk and work in faith, witnessing Christ to the world.
An Epiphany Prayer: Father, we thank you for revealing yourself to us in Jesus the Christ. You have adopted us and given us new life in Christ because you love us.
May we, through your guidance and our faithful obedience, find new ways of shining the Light of your love so that it may be a Light of revelation for all people. We thank you for your love, praise you for your Gift of life, and ask for your continued Presence with us. Amen