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The month of January will find the church squarely in the liturgical season of Epiphany. The purpose of the season of Epiphany is to give us a chance to see and celebrate God’s revelation to us. (The word “epiphany” itself means “revealing.”) My experience is that—even though it is true that some people have what I call “gee-whiz” experiences that reveal God all at once—it is more common to have experiences that reveal God a little bit at a time. I receive the liturgical season of Epiphany in exactly that way. Even though there are some “gee-whiz” experiences, the greater part of Epiphany reveals God in Christ gradually.

Epiphany begins on January 6, which is the twelfth day of Christmas. That is also the day the church officially celebrates the visit of the wise men to the child Jesus. (According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are living in a house when the wise men come to visit versus Luke’s gospel in which shepherds visit Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at a manger.) That epiphany appears to be an all-at-once experience, but it is surrounded by gradual revealing. The star that led the wise men required a gradual path of following. Likewise, the gifts presented by the wise men probably raised questions at the time but purposefully pointed to the identity of the child Jesus. Liturgical scholar Ralph van Loon writes a helpful explanation. “The gift of gold was valuable, a gift fit for a king. Frankincense was a type of incense used in worship, symbolizing prayers rising to God. Myrrh was a fragrant resin used in oil for anointing and to prepare a body for burial.”

Beyond that first revealing, the gospels tell stories of Jesus that gradually reveal Jesus as the Lamb of God, a prophet, and a great teacher before we ultimately come to see Jesus revealed as God’s beloved Son, to whom God wants us to listen. We wait during the liturgical season of Advent, but, during the season of Epiphany, we listen. It is a reminder that God is in charge, which is a good reason to listen. It is also a reminder that God reveals God’s own will gradually, but during that process calls us to listen to Jesus. Epiphany ends with the reminder that to listen to Jesus is to listen to God.

I welcome you to join me this Epiphany to celebrate God who reveals the holiness of Christ’s work and invites us to listen. God’s path gradually becomes clear as we hear words of comfort, challenge, and wisdom to see what is before us, but also the place to which God is leading us with Christ leading the way.
Live as children of light!
Pastor Scott Paradise