Tuesday, September 17, 2019


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The Rev Andries Combrink is a Presbyterian Minister of the Gospel. He lives in Centurion, South Africa. 
To teach the Word of God is his calling,  based on the Reformed tradition. 

 

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It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ Mt 4:4.

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Jan 4

Written by: Andries
Thursday, January 03, 2019 11:58:51 PM  RssIcon

In Church tradition, where the birth of Christ is celebrated on December 25, the visit of the Wise Men from the east is celebrated on January 6, and it is called the Feast of Epiphany – where epiphany means enlightenment and revelation.
This feast had been celebrated for a long time before the Church decided to remember the birthday of Jesus on 25 December.
 
And in Eastern Christianity it is still celebrated with outstanding liturgies and dazzling church services.  This tradition is still today more prominent in the Eastern Church and in Spanish speaking countries than Christmas.
It is only in recent years that the Epiphany was again included in the celebrations and seasons of some branches of the Western Church, including some of the Protestant churches.
 
Epiphany celebrates that the Messiah was revealed to the Gentiles, while Christmas, the birthday, is celebrated as the day when Hebrew believers, such as the shepherds, worshipped the new born King.
This is why amongst Gentiles in the East, where the Wise Men came from, the Feast of the Epiphany so very early on in the history of the Church became an important day of remembrance and celebration of the light and love of Christ for the gentile nations.
They took ownership of a Gospel moment, the visit of the Magi, where they, as non-Jews, were enlightened and received the revelation of the coming of Christ to our world and our lives.
 
Where the Feast of Epiphany is celebrated with enthusiasm, it is also customary to contemplate the revelation of Christ by the Father at Jesus’ baptism with the words: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matt 3:17.) They traditionally also remind each other of the first miracle, when Jesus turned water into wine, and that the Bible says that this was to reveal the “glory of Jesus”.
 

What makes the Eastern Feast important is the understanding that enlightenment about Jesus as Messiah and the revelation of his light and glory is only possible when our thinking and prayers go beyond the Christmas story!

 

No, the glory of the Son of God, as it was revealed to his followers through his miracles, parables and teachings should help us understand who the King was that came to reconcile both Hebrews and Gentiles with God!
And the radical, complete and final epiphany of the glory of Christ can only be understood when we consider the meaning of his eventual suffering, and his glorious resurrection and exultation.
 
The Feast of Epiphany therefore already points us to and begins to prepare us for Easter Sunday. Jesus' resurrection radically and completely changes the natural order of life and death, contradicts expectations that the Messiah would bring a swift end to political powers, and continually challenges us to examine our faith anew.

 

The implications of the resurrection include the shattering of inflexible orthodoxies with harsh social boundaries, because the King who came to us, “is Lord of all!" 

An epiphany of who the Son of God really is, requires a new path in the life for followers of the King that was born on Christmas day.
In the end, God is the ultimate actor. God has moved ahead of the church to embrace the entire world. Indeed it is God's initiative that sets the apostles of biblical times and the church of every century to the monumental juncture where we clearly see that the true Messiah is not only the Saviour of a few Hebrew believers – but equally so, the Redeemer of the entire world.
The Wise Men from the east have no other message to tell, than that the Gospel we should embrace is that the Jewish Messiah is our own Christ, our Lord, Redeemer and our Saviour.
 
After we celebrated the birth and glorious enlightenment of Hebrew shepherds - and elderly believers when Jesus was circumcised – we should with excitement embrace the revelation that he is our own personal hope and salvation, our joy and our Messenger of God’s love, whoever we are.
 
We all need an epiphany of how the Holy Spirit wants to move amongst us as Gentiles to encounter new, unexpected and challenging ways to celebrate the reverberations of the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of “our Christ” to continue to be manifested around and through us.
An epiphany of the nature, work and character of the Son of God will every time move us in becoming the missional church that Jesus Christ came to establish!
    

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