At one time Epiphany was celebrated as the beginning of the New Year, but today it denotes the end of the Christmas holiday season. On our calendar it falls on January 6th, the last day of the 12 days of Christmas.The word epiphany is defined as “an intuitive grasp of reality, usually through something simple, and striking, as an illuminating discovery.” So it means to reveal or to show.
When the wise men completed their journey and located Jesus, an epiphany occurred. It is believed that by not going back to the king, after seeing Jesus, it was revealed to them that He was indeed the Christ, the Messiah, the promised one, the King and Savior of humanity. In short, they recognized who Jesus was and is, and it changed their way of thinking and their path for life. The story is found in the second chapter of Matthew and it tells us that after they saw the Christ Child they departed and went home a different way. Because of this, at one time, it was the hope of a priest of the early church that Epiphany should be the celebrated Christian holiday rather than Christmas. We teach that everyone who is to become a Christian have this epiphany moment when they realize who Jesus is and accept Him as the One promised by God to save us from our sins. The thinking of this priest was that this epiphany moment in a persons life was more important than to celebrate the birth of the baby Savior, and in fact Epiphany Sunday is recognized and/or celebrated in many churches today. This year it happens to fall of a Sunday.
Contrary to popular Nativity scenes the wise men did not appear until a year or two after the fact of Christ’s birth, but they are often placed in the same context as the shepherds worshiping Jesus.
My daughter came up with a solution to this problem. She removes the wise men from the manger scene and puts them in a different part of the room. As January 6th draws near, she moves the wise men closer to the manger scene.
So her nativity might look like this, until January 6th which is the day the arrival of the wise men is celebrated.
These men, whose journey began somewhere in Persia arrived at a house where Mary and Joseph were staying until they were told by an angel to take the baby and flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod.
The wise men are an important part of the Christmas story, they worshiped Him and brought Him gifts. We exchange and give gifts today in honor of these first gifts given to our Savior.
All of the things we have looked at in these blogs reveal the true meaning of Christmas. We celebrate the fact that Jesus was born, came to earth through the womb of a virgin woman, leaving behind the glories of heaven to bring us out from under Satan’s rule and into a peace that passes all understanding.
And so the Christmas season ends and a New Year begins. I wish for all my readers a very happy and healthy new year and may your life honor the One whose birth we celebrate in the Season of Christmas, and may you recognize who Jesus is.
There is one aspect of Christmas that I have neglected to mention in these blogs. But that is for another day, hopefully before the season of Christmas ends.
Where did he come from?? Tune in next time.