For many, the Festival of Epiphany is perhaps the least observed celebration of the church year. Immediately following Advent and Christmas, it is often lost in the post-holiday preoccupation with restoring order, paying bills, and getting back to work. In the midst of “getting things back to normal,” celebrating this festival may enrich the good news of Christ that we anticipated in Advent and celebrated at Christmas. The meaning of “epiphany” is “manifestation”; it may also mean “a new understanding.” When the Magi approached the child Jesus, new understandings came to them and to all about who Christ would be a messiah for the entire world. This service builds on such concepts of new understanding. Epiphany is an excellent opportunity to capture the profound and fresh understandings that follow the spiritual emphases of Advent and Christmas and the beginning of a new calendar year. This informal worship experience gathers persons together to reveal new understandings in light of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.
To celebrate the Feast of Epiphany is to follow through to the conclusion what started in the weeks of anticipation in December with the first week of Advent. The feast completes the season of Christmas by inviting us, like the Wise ones themselves, to discover for ourselves the identity of the Christ child. It’s an echo for us of our Christmas Sunday morning worship when we shared with each other what it means for us personally that we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord.
Like the Magi who anticipated, recognized, and welcomed the infant king, we can recognize and proclaim the appearance of God’s chosen one. Therefore, Epiphany is the culmination of the Christmas season, not its ending.
The Magi, who journeyed a great distance to recognize the birth of a foreign king, recognized the blessing of peace that this king’s appearance signified. Their gifts and adoration of the new king implied their acceptance of his peaceful reign; we acknowledge that Christ’s entrance into the world makes our homes and churches places of peace and hospitality.