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An epiphany about Epiphany

January 3, 2019

This year, the Feast of the Epiphany, which is always January 6th (the 12th day of Christmas), falls on a Sunday, so we'll have an opportunity to give this holy day it a bit more attention than we normally do.

The word "epiphany" means two things, and both meanings can be helpful to us early in the new year. 

When the word "Epiphany" is capitalized, it refers to the religious holy day we'll observe on Sunday: the manifestation or "showing" of Christ to the wider world. It's the day we commemorate the Magi, or wise men ("three kings") coming from the East and bowing down before the baby Jesus and offering them their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

The more common use of the word "epiphany," however, is when we say we've "had an epiphany," meaning a kind of "ah-HA! moment" or a sudden insight. 

There's a wonderful poem written by the African-American preacher and civil rights leader Howard Thurman called "The Work of Christmas" which, I think, pulls together the two meanings of the word "epiphany," and does a good job of putting this time of year in perspective:

"When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock... The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart."

What a great way to begin our new year.  Epiphany means Christmas is over.  But Epiphany is itself a season, inviting us to have an epiphany of our own -- that now more than ever, we're being asked to do the work of Christmas. And the work of Christmas is of course Jesus' work: to find...heal... feed... release... rebuild... bring peace... make music. See you Sunday, 

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