In eastern Christian tradition and in Spanish speaking communities, while the birth of Christ is celebrated on December 25, the arrival of the Wise men from the East is celebrated on January 6 and called the Feast of Epiphany. This feast is in Orthodoxy celebrated with magnificent festivities and church services, with the same joy and ceremony as Christmas Day.
Yet, most western lectionaries incorporate this celebration.
The word “epiphany” refers to a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, suddenly become aware, of something that is very important to you. It refers to a powerful spiritual experience.
The Christian celebration of Epiphany ponders the fact that the Messiah was revealed to the Gentiles, the Wise Men from the East. Amongst gentiles in the East, where the Wise Men came from, it became an important day of remembrance and celebration, inspired by the wonder that the meaning of the light and love of Christ was not only given to Jewish shepherds and other Hebrew believers, but it was also gloriously given to the gentiles.
The celebration of Epiphany emphasizes the revelation of Christ by God the Father at Jesus’ baptism with the words: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matt 3:17.) It also reminds each one of us of the first miracle, when Jesus turned water into wine to reveal the “glory of Christ”.
In western households it traditionally is the day when Christmas decorations are packed away.
But it can be much more than that. It is inspiring to at the beginning of our calendar year consider the glory, the power and the message of the Son of God, as it was revealed to his followers through his miracles, parables and teachings while he ministered on earth!
The final and complete epiphany of the glory of Christ can only be understood when we remember his suffering, and his glorious resurrection and ascension, focused on during Lent and Easter.
6 January, or Epiphany Day, is a day when we may pray that Jesus will not leave us, (even though Christmas is packed away!) but that Christ will show us the fullness of his glory, through his kindness and his victory during every season!
May the light of the Lord’s glory shine brightly and festively amid the world’s darkness, setting us free by the truth that Jesus Christ brought to us, God’s children.