The word “epiphany” means manifestation, and for us as Christians, “The Epiphany of Our Lord” is celebrated on January 6 of each year. This is an usual year because we have opportunity celebrate this festival on Sunday, January 6, the very day of this festival.
On Epiphany we recall the coming of the Wise Men, by the leading of the star, to worship Jesus and to offer Him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but more than recalling we worship the God who was born among us to gift us with forgiveness, life and salvation through his perfect life for us, his death on the cross for us and his resurrection for us.
Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas and the beginning of the season of light.
The speed of light is the story of Epiphany. The light of the star leads people far and near to worship the newborn ruler of the world. The Epiphany story reminds us as God’s people to hold Jesus the Light of the World high so that all people may be drawn to Him as the Word made flesh – God made manifest for our world today.
You and I are living in a society and culture today that that needs Jesus. It is a society and culture that wants freedom from religion rather than the freedom of religion. This is evidenced by the removal of the acknowledging of God, the honoring of God, and the referencing of God in the public arena. In that context, you and I are called to live as Christians in the world today in such a way that we influence the world today. More than ever, it is our calling and our mission to shine brightly with the Light of Jesus wherever we go and in whatever we do and say. And that begins right here in our church family in our relationships with one another.
Jesus enlightens us about our true condition as sinners and promises the Holy Spirit who brings the cleansing Gospel of Christ to cover our sin and wash us clean. St. Paul saw his purpose and ours as bringing “to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God.” (Ephesians 3:8-9). This is why the church has often viewed the days around Epiphany as a time to focus on outreach, mission and evangelism.
The festival of the “Baptism of our Lord” (January 13) strengthens the Epiphany emphasis. In Jesus’ own baptism, His public ministry begins. God’s Word authenticates Jesus’ mission, and the power of the Holy Spirit propels him in his far-reaching ministry. Isaiah’s promise of a “light to the nations” is fulfilled in Jesus (Isaiah 42:6).
Jesus’ baptism and mission are closely tied together. Likewise, our baptism and God’s mission for each of us are also tightly tied together. As this season of Epiphany lifts up Jesus as the Light of the World, we remember the charge given to the newly baptized: “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
One very important way that we as God’s people worship the Lord and shine brightly for Him is by returning in thanksgiving the gifts we have been given in service to our Lord and to our neighbour. Those gifts take many different forms and are expressed in many different ways. This year I encourage you to use the gifts that God has given you to shine for Jesus.
So this year, rather than hide our lights or limit them to certain times, may the Holy Spirit enable us to lift Jesus higher for all the world to see, because He said, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people unto Me.” So may His Light be our light and shine through us in ever brighter ways and be manifest in all we do and say to the glory of God.