Excerpt from Christian Today – “What Is Epiphany And Why Does It Matter To The 21st Century Church”
Epiphany marks the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus and in the Western tradition is the time when we conclude the Twelve Days of Christmas. In the Eastern Church, because of the way the calendars differ, Epiphany is the day of Christmas itself – which means hundreds of millions of believers are with their families and celebrating.
In the nativity story, Jesus is born into relative poverty and obscurity in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph have been visited by angels who foretell his birth and by the time is born, the angels have also imparted the good news to the shepherds who come and worship. Yet the addition of the Magi to the story adds a whole new dimension. The significance is that they were not Jewish and yet recognised something special and unique in Jesus. They kneel down before him and offer gifts showing the importance they place on him.
This is the first indication we have in the life of Jesus that his ministry will not be just for Israel but for people of all nations. Although it took his followers many years to see it, this was the moment where it was first revealed that the Messiah would come not only for the Jewish people but for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and nationalities.
It is easy, then, to see why for many hundreds of years the Church in both East and West has considered the Epiphany (which literally means ‘sudden realisation’) so important. It was the point at which Jesus began to be revealed as the Messiah for the whole world.
A blessed Epiphany to all readers – and a very happy Christmas to our Eastern sisters and brothers!