I enjoy Bible trivia and church history. When I was younger, I used to hear the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. I always liked singing five golden rings loudly, but did you know there are twelve days of Christmas. It is a festival that started on December 25, Christmas, and ending on January 5, also known as Christmastide in some traditions. The next day after the twelve days, January 6, is known as Epiphany.
I also enjoy the church calendar year. It may sound a little strange for a Baptist, but it is informative and helps us to look at many details of our faith in a much bigger picture. Epiphany Sunday commemorates the visit of the Magi (it is also where we get our English word magistrate) or Wise Men. Although they were not men of the Jewish faith they did see the sign of God in the stars. They decided to go and see for themselves this “King of the Jews.” It may be a common belief that the Wise Men were at the manger, but it could have been as much as two years after the birth and before the family fled to Egypt.
What does all this have to do with an Epiphany? An epiphany is a sudden appearance of or understanding of something previously unknown. Usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. The Wise Men were doing what they always did in studying the sky and then suddenly something new was there in what had been predictable patterns. A moment of extraordinary in the ordinary that changed them forever.
What about us? In the time after Christmas and before Lent, that time after the rush of Christmas many people can feel down. The days are still short, the nights are long, family and friends are back to life as normal, bills from extra Christmas purchases and cold weather electric costs can add up. There can be a sense that normal life is a struggle and we can lose sight of Christ.
We need a glimpse of the extraordinary in the ordinary. We need the realization that Christ is in all of life, not just in Christmas and Easter. Christ is in all of life, real life and in a moment, when we least expect it…we may just see a glimpse of him there. A glimpse in the smile of another, unexpected visit or phone call, the grace of a loved one, and in the faces of the people around us. Faces that if we look closely we may just see the face of God in the face of a stranger. Although they may be unknown to us we see the familiar in them, the face of Christ.
Will you look at the faces of others for that moment when Christ will be may aware to you in them? When others see you, will the see the face of Christ? Paul shares in Colossians 1:27b “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Now that is an epiphany that can both be experienced and shared.