Epiphany Sunday

Sunday, January 8, 2012 will be celebrated in many churches as Epiphany Sunday. This post about Epiphany repeats one that appeared here in 2008.

January 6 (the 12th day of Christmas) is designated by church tradition as "Epiphany." It is celebrated by many churches on the following Sunday, known as "Epiphany Sunday." 

The term epiphany means "to show," "make known" or "reveal." In some Western churches, it remembers the coming of the Magi (wise men) bringing gifts to the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus as the Lord and King of all humanity (Jews and Gentiles included). 

In some Eastern Churches, Epiphany also commemorates Jesus’ baptism by which he was consecrated in his mission as the God-man, sent from the Father, anointed by the Spirit, for the benefit of all humanity - indeed, for the benefit of all creation. 

Epiphany powerfully presents the Gospel of the inclusion of all people (and all creation) in God's triune love and life through the substitutionary and representative (vicarious) humanity of the Son of God come to us, as one of us, through incarnation as the Son of Man (including his birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, continuing session from heaven, and promised return when he is revealed in all his glory at the final consummation of this age). 

The Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as "King" and thus they were the first to "show" or "reveal" Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ. This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s prophetic statement that this child Jesus would be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus' vicarious life embraces all people, all nations and all races. 

The work of the Father, in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit for humankind's salvation is truly for all. Therefore, Epiphany is also a good time to focus on the mission of the church to participate in the ministry that Jesus is now doing through the Holy Spirit to reveal God and his salvation to all people. It is also a good time to focus on Christian fellowship, especially in healing the divisions of prejudice and bigotry that we all too often find between God’s children.

For a helpful GCI article concerning the season of Epiphany, click here.

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