Sunday, January 6, 2013


Today is Epiphany, marking the end of the Season of Christmas (I'm never sure as to whether Christmas is the First Day of Christmas, or Epiphany is the Twelfth; not that it matters all that much. . .)  In some Christian traditions, mainly in the East, Epiphany, not Christmas, is the day for exchanging of gifts (after the example of the Magi, I suppose), and, at least in terms of public celebration, Epiphany is a bigger deal than Christmas is.

'Epiphany' means, literally, 'revelation' or 'manifestation'.  Jesus might have been born on Christmas, but Epiphany is when He 'went public', so to speak.  The readings for Epiphany rotate among the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:21-40), and Jesus' Baptism by John the Baptist (John 1:29-34).  All of which represent, in varying ways, Jesus being 'made manifest' to the world He came to save.

I have especially come to appreciate the story of the Magi, and what it represents.  There is a delightful irony in the fact that God, who forbade the Jews to practice astrology, gave the Magi a 'sign in the heavens', to announce the coming of His Son in the flesh to Gentiles.  Of course, God knew that the learned Gentiles would notice, and be impressed by such a sign, and He wasn't above letting them know, in a way they could comprehend, that something big was going down in Bethlehem, and they wouldn't want to miss it. . .  Put another way, the stars don't move us, God moves the stars. . .  And even today, I suppose, God leaves signs of Himself to be noticed, and understood by those 'who have eyes to see, and ears to hear', even among secular modern folks.

And, oh, to be Simeon, or John the Baptist, waiting to see the Promised One, the Desired of the Nations, and then finally to see and recognize Him.  I can understand Simeon saying, "Now, Lord, you can dismiss Your servant in peace". . . That was it; he was waiting to see the Messiah, and there He was.   Now, so to speak, old Simeon could die happy.  I have often wondered, if Jesus came today, would I recognize Him?  Would I have the eyes and ears to see and hear when He came among us?  Or would I be like those in Jesus' day who were so focused in on their own notions of 'what the Messiah will be like', or 'what God must be like', that they didn't recognize Him when He stood in their midst?

Oh, Lord, have mercy; let me have 'eyes to see, and ears to hear'. . .


  1. I've thought of whether I would recognize Him, and every time I'm humbled- and sorta ashamed- to realize that I probably would not; too many doubts, too much "modern" thinking (that can't happen today, miracles are perception, etc)... too much engineer. And that makes me sad, but also teaches me to keep looking for (and often seeing, thankfully) what IS around me, when God is caring for and leading me. And that, makes me happy.

  2. Well, I don't think we will miss recognizing Him the second time he comes around!

  3. I like what Bijoux said; we certainly won't miss him the second time indeed! I often have thought what I would have been like if I lived the time Jesus walked the earth. Would I have embraced him or rejected him? Would I have believed in him or not? Really hard to say for sure.....I would like to think I would have accepted his word and his teaching.


  4. I like that word, epiphany, for all of what it can mean... from the 12th Day of Christmas to the simplest of revelations when we choose to recognize them.
    When we do, it is easy to be grateful.
    It is also a reminder that God is everywhere.

  5. I don't think there's a common greeting or salutation for the Epiphany, as in "Merry Christmas," at least I've never heard of such. The Second Mrs. Pennington and I would exchange small gifts on this day, which she called "Little Christmas."

    So... Merry Little Christmas to you and yours, Craig.

    1. Sure there's a greeting.
      Nat King Cole sang it. "Have yourself a merry Little Christmas..."

  6. Sailor - Well, it's at least challenging to think about, ain't it? I have some of the same thoughts as you - would I recognize God when I saw Him, or would I just be too narrowly focused on my own ideas of Him?

    Bijoux - Good point. That whole trumpet-blowing, sky-splitting thing would be hard to miss, wouldn't it?

    corgi - Yeah, I'd like to think that too. I'm just not completely certain I would have, and that gives me pause. . .

    Skip - Really good comment. . .

    I also had an epiphany of my own, way back in the day, when Jen brought me a rubber ball. That one worked out pretty well for me. . .

    Buck - And a Merry Little Christmas to you, my friend. . .

    Skip, redux - (*groan*)

    Sarge - (*blushing*)

    Thanks. . .

  7. As Buck did, we do. That is, MY WIFE and I exchanged gifts last night. It was an extremely pleasant thing to do during a somewhat not-too-joyous time (temporally speaking, of course, as the greater significance of the time period isn't affected by such relatively insignificant things as job loss.)

  8. Thanks, Suldog. Exchanging gifts can be a real mood-lifter, can't it?

    It's a real pain in the backside that, since Christmas and the end of the year coincide so closely, a disproportionate share of layoffs happen at Christmastime. Happened to me once, and I know lots of similar stories. Hopefully, yours will be short-lived. . .

  9. i like your point about speaking to the gentiles in a way they would understand. after all, christ came as a baby so he could identify with and be understood by all.

  10. Lime - Yup. "The heavens declare the glory of God," and all that.

    And yet, out of all those gentiles, only three of 'em showed up. "Eyes to see, and ears to hear. . ."

  11. Man, I'm incredibly far behind .....

    it is amazing when one thinks about the Historical significance of the way in which this plan played out.

  12. ... or rather, the way in which this plan IS playing out ... :)

  13. Xavier - I'm sure; but I'd love for you to fill it out for me. . .