For twelve days we have journeyed through a time of Christmas reflections and have arrived at Epiphany. The word epiphany comes from the Greek for manifestation. While the day has come to celebrate the three wisemen, the day is meant to begin the Manifestation of Christ to the Nations. For some traditions the manifestation is observed from Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
Many traditions celebrate Christ’s manifestation to the nations by remembering the Three Kings, however two other events from his life are highlighted in this season: the baptism of Jesus and his first miracle of turning the water into wine. In these three significant events in Christ’s life, he is revealed as the King and the Son of God not only for the Jewish people but for all the world.
I love the idea of a season of manifestation and revelation. My hope is that in these 12 days of Christmas reflection you have had several personal revelations. While the new year is a time of personal reflection, Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the nations, raises our gaze from ourselves and invites us to see how Christ has come as Good News for the whole world.
In just two weeks our nation will inaugurate a new president who has told us to fear those who are coming from other nations. We are tempted to see immigrants and refugees as rapists and terrorists. Yet in our Christmas reflection we encountered a God who immigrated to earth and became a refugee, fleeing genocide, so that he could reveal himself as Love and Peace in the middle of our pain and violence.
As we step into a season Christ’s manifestation not just to us, but to the whole world, will we have eyes to see Christ revealed to others? More importantly, will we open our hearts, minds, and lives to let Christ be manifested through us? Jesus came as Immanuel, God With Us, not only to be with us but to be with everyone whom we encounter. Will we lock him up inside of us or limit his love to only flow to those like us? Or will we hear the declaration of the angels again who brought good news of great joy FOR ALL PEOPLE and open our lives as rivers for the waters of Christ’s baptism and miracle wine to flow?
The Twelfth Day of Christmas- January 6
The Feast of Epiphany - January 6, is traditionally celebrated as the Day of the Three Kings. There are many traditions around the world to celebrate. One of my friends, Effy Sanchez, celebrates the Mexican tradition of cutting the Rosca de Reyes. Each year we gather at her house to see who will cut the piece of traditional cake with the hidden plastic baby in it. Whoever gets the baby has to host a party in February. The celebration just keeps going!
Reflection from "When the Time Was Fulfilled"
" 'Immanuel! God is with us!' We proclaim this fact in the sense that God's love includes the entire world! One can't even cross a street today without meeting people whose ideas and outlook on life are different. You can't travel to any place without mixing and living with people who are different. If God is with us, then he must also be with them! If we think we have to wait until they are converted or changed, we'll most certainly be least in God's kingdom. Jesus died for us because he died for the entire, godless world. This is the love of God: he bestows a kiss without waiting until we have become angels! If God is with me, he is with all people! God is with us-all of us!
If we are honest it is not easy to identify with this Immanuel. It would be so much simpler if I could just stand in a niche near my Savior and be 'saved' and let the world go to hell- that's not hard. But to accept Immanuel and proclaim, 'God with us', and be entirely sure that the world belongs to God, and get to work, that's difficult. Much of the world doesn't want anything to do with God. Worse still, even the followers of Jesus hardly understand what it means that the world belongs to God. Christians not only take up arms against 'unbelievers,' they fight one another and kill each other and consign one another to hell - that is sheer torment.
Jesus, the light of the world, Jesus, the love of God for the world- these must be put into practice! 'Immanuel!' Let it be today, tomorrow, and for all time: 'God with you, with me, with all the world!' In this way we can be, 'people for life'; 'Immanuel.' When things are hard for us, when we meet enemies, let us remember 'Immanuel' and be joyful that this Savior came into the world!"
Practice of Remembrance
Many people who observe Epiphany keep their Christmas decorations up until Epiphany. I have gotten into this practice and will observe the twelfth day of Christmas quietly at home, taking down my decorations and packing up Christmas both in boxes and in my heart. I will clear some space and open my eyes to see how Christ may manifest himself in this next season.
What can you do to create space for Christ to be revealed?