Oh, I love it when I realize something new.
Today is King’s Day and it is about remembering the story of the Magi visiting Jesus in Bethlehem. It’s a big holiday in Spain, children receive gifts from the kings, and I can see in my mind the three giant, elaborate Kings-on-camels floats we saw there in the parade one January 6th long ago.
But I didn’t fully understand why today is called Epiphany.
Nor did I realize the beautiful on-going meaning and hope that word holds out.
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The word ‘epiphany’ means an illuminating discovery or realization, usually a sudden understanding or deeper perception.
In Christian church history the word takes a deeper meaning: Realizing the presence of God, of who Jesus is and what Jesus is doing.
The celebration of Epiphany focuses on the Magi, those Eastern astronomers and scholars, probably from Iran. They knew the skies and when they observed that unusually unusual star, they must have been more than curious.
Somehow God gave them the epiphany, the realization and understanding that Jesus, the King of the Jews, was being born, and that He was not just for Israel, but for all nations.
According to Matthew 2, they believed God and made the decision to track the star.
There are many details we don’t know about this story (like how many wise men there were or how long they journeyed) but we do know there was commitment, preparation, challenges, mysteries, danger (i.e. evil Herod), supernatural protection (God warned them in a dream) and a happy ending. (When they saw the star stopped over the house in Bethlehem where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were living, “they were filled with joy.” Matthew 2:10)
They worshipped Jesus and gave the family costly and significant gifts worthy of a king. Being sages perhaps they knew the Jewish prophecy that the King of the Jews would be a righteous King, providing for his people, defending the poor, delivering the needy, crushing the oppressor, and bringing justice and peace, as foreshadowed in Psalm 72.
Verses 10-11 say that eastern kings will bring him gifts and “All kings will bow before him.”
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Although celebrating Kings Day, the day of Epiphany, is not tradition around here—it’s not a holiday and there are no fun parades that I know of—still we can remember and rejoice about God’s revelation to the Magi and how it transformed them into joyful Jesus worshippers.
Today I celebrate the truth that God’s Spirit continues to give epiphanies.
God still reveals the reality of His presence to us. He wants to deepen our faith and help us as we journey through life’s challenges, mysteries, and danger to the happy ending of heaven.
And He is still giving epiphanies to bring more people to trust in Jesus, to commit to the spiritual pilgrimage of following Him, and to become Jesus worshippers.
I am glad there is a day called Epiphany.
And I just got a whatsapp call from my family celebrating in Spain and I got to watch their Kings Day spontaneous music recital, our three grandgirls playing the piano for their Brazilian family.
It made this day even more special!