January 6th is Epiphany. Most people don’t have any connection to the day because it’s not your typical Hallmark event. If you don’t follow any liturgical traditions then you’ve probably overlooked Epiphany.
Until the forth century there was no Christmas on the 25th. The church celebrated two major feasts: the first was obviously Easter. The second wasn’t Christmas–it was Epiphany.
If the Advent season (Christmas) was a time for waiting, then Epiphany is the time for answers. Think of Advent as the spark that lights the fuse for fireworks. You see the tiny spark of light, then you wait a moment, and BANG….Epiphany is the massive explosion for all to see. I like to refer to Epiphany as the ‘Revelation revealed to the world’; that is, celebrating Jesus’ intercession into the history of the world.
(Epiphany symbolically celebrates the visit of the Magi to toddler Jesus thus commemorating the first ‘revelation of the Christ to the Gentiles’. The Eastern Orthodox church celebrates Epiphany as a focus on the baptism of Jesus.)
How is this relevant today? Fireworks are a one time deal, you light, it goes bang, we see the display and go oooh and aahhh. This metaphor is incomplete because Christ, although revealed to the world 2000 years ago, hasn’t gone away (like the fleeting display of the firework). Jesus wasn’t a one time deal, not some non-descript teacher that we can follow, some crazy religious zealot with equally crazy teachings, or a lunatic who claimed to be Messiah.
Jesus Christ is the solution to the problem. He is the inauguration of God’s Kingdom hope on earth. That hope was and is to restore what has been broken. The wrongs turned right; ultimately a restored relationship with God through Jesus.
Jesus eventually glimpses the entirety of God’s Kingdom on earth at Easter. Today, it’s the church community charged in a participatory role to be the preview that was glimpsed in Jesus–a moment of wrongs turned right. Or to put in another way–glimpsing heaven now.
As Christ first revealed himself to the world as a glimpse of ultimate hope, the church today participates in this same rescue mission in real, dirty, and tangible ways.
Epiphany is revelation revealed –> Jesus revealed to humanity, humanity given a promise and preview that one day ‘wrongs’ will be turned ‘right’, and uis given an opportunity to reconnect permanently with God in an unbreakable relationship.
Certainly a reason to celebrate.