Dates: January 6th - March 5th, 2019
Color: White, symbolizing the light of the God's glory manifested in Jesus Christ.
A Brief History
Our earliest record of Epiphany dates back to the end of the 3rd Century AD in Alexandria, Egypt. The establishment of Epiphany (or Holy Theophany in the East) as widely celebrated on January 6th came in the 4th Century AD. The exact content of the ancient celebration is debated but most of the evidence points to a remembrance of the Nativity, the visit of the Magi from the East (Matt. 2:1-12), the Baptism of Christ (Luke 3:21-22 and pars.), and Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). With time and development, the season of Epiphany has come to be known as a time when the Church traces the life of Christ from the events of the Magi's visitation, to the the baptism of Jesus, and all the way until the Transfiguration, which, in many traditions, is remembered on the last Sunday before Lent.
(Source: The Study of Liturgy, eds. Jones & Wainwright)
The Themes Of The Season
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
The word "epiphany" comes from a Greek verb that means to "make manifest" or to "reveal." In Epiphany, we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ has been made known to all the nations of the earth. This is why the visit of the Magi is of such significance, because it symbolizes the Gentiles coming from afar to know and worship God through Jesus Christ. This carries foward to the stories of Jesus' baptism, teachings, and miracles, all of which serve to make us know more and more who Jesus is and what he came to do. In this season, we ponder deeply the early chapters of the gospels and ask oursevles these core questions: "Who is Jesus? And what does that mean for me?"
We who have seen the light of Christ are obliged, by the greatness of the grace that has been given us, to make known the presence of the Savior to the ends of the earth ... not only by preaching the glad tidings of His coming; but above all by revealing Him in our lives.... Every day of our mortal lives must be His manifestation, His divine Epiphany, in the world which He has created and redeemed.
(Thomas Merton, quoted in Bobby Gross. Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16 ESV)
The season of Epiphany is about apprehending our call to be bearers, vessels, and reflectors of light back out into a world which is so often dark. This calls to mind the tasks of evangelism, mercy, and justice: making the light of Christ known in word and in deed.
Practices For The Season
(the following are partially adapted and supplemented from Living the Christian Year by Bobby Gross)
- Ask Jesus to increase your compassion for those who are far from God.
- Ask for greater courage to speak to them.
- Read a book to sharpen your thinking about sharing your faith.
- Choose a few friends or coworkers or family members to pray for during ing Epiphany.
- Become alert to openings in your everyday conversations where you can mention Jesus in a natural and interesting way.
- If someone seems open, suggest going for coffee and some conversation tion about spiritual matters-be prepared to really listen to their experiences, beliefs and questions.
- Propose to a few friends that they serve with you somewhere in the neighborhood
- Invite a neighbor to come to a social activity or worship gathering at your church.
- Give a friend a thoughtful book on Jesus or the Christian faith.
- Light a few white candles around the meal table, reinforcing that the color and light symbolize the light of the God's glory manifested in Jesus Christ.
- Read passages from the early chapters of the Gospels as a household or family.
- Ask and meditate on the questions: "Who is Jesus? And what does that mean for me?"
- Imitate Jesus and the way that he lived among the poor and marginilzed.
- If there are things that you have been hiding, from your past or in your present, pray for the grace to bring them into the light with trusted companions.