Perhaps you are preparing to set out shoes for the kings to leave gifts or maybe even some grass or hay for their camels. Maybe the sweet smells of a King’s Cake or Epiphany Tart or Koningenbrood or any of a hundred different special desserts are wafting through your house. You may have memories of the initials “KMB” etched in chalk over a door frame, stars carried in processions, or windows kept open on a chilly morning.
Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6, is a holy day filled with tradition. Ranging from the whimsical to the fervent, many of these actions are simply part of family practices or community celebrations. For some people, these traditions are not even associated with a religious observance.
The word “Epiphany” is derived from the Greek and means appearance or manifestation. The date has been traditionally associated with the arrival of the Magi bringing gifts to the newborn Christ Child. It has also been connected to the story of Jesus transforming water into wine at the wedding at Cana; and for much of its history has been connected to the Baptism of Christ.
While these are all distinct events in Jesus’ ministry, they all share a common theme: manifestation. They are all moments when the incarnation of Christ - his humanity and divinity - is experienced by the world. When the Magi arrive, they confirm that the larger world can see and embrace the promise of the Christ Child - he is both Mary’s child and the one whose birth the stars proclaimed. When Jesus changes water into wine, it is his first miracle, the power of God experienced in a particular place at the hand of a wedding guest. When Jesus is baptized, we hear Jesus’ identity confirmed by the very voice of God. Epiphany is about seeing, touching, hearing, experiencing God with us. Our traditions - gifts, or feasts, or jumping into water, when given context, can help us understand that story in a new way.
This Sunday, following the 10:00 a.m. worship service, we will be holding our own Epiphany celebration. Come join in a few games, a scavenger hunt, and of course, some good food. We’ll start in the gym, and all are welcome!