Peruse the Hallmark Channel listings this time of year and you’ll find any number of Christmas stories: films on Biblical tradition, modern tales of the spirit of generosity, heartwarming themes about Christmas miracles — all the genres are represented.
But have you heard any good Epiphany stories lately? There aren’t too many listings for Epiphany stories about “those three wise guys” from the East. By the time Epiphany arrives there will be few, if any, remaining wreaths or Christmas trees, carol-singing choirs, or Salvation Army bell-ringers. But this does not make Epiphany any less important.
In short stories and novels, an “epiphany” is a turning point for a character — a meaningful revelation about him or herself that matters, an “ah-ha” moment that redefines one’s course of thought or action.
However, in the Biblical narrative the Epiphany is the revelation that God’s gift of the Messiah is for everyone — not exclusively for Abraham’s descendents. The “wise men” were Gentiles who had read the heavens for signs. They had studied one that was brighter and closer than others, their theorems converging on a star which proclaimed a royal birth.
Matthew 2 tells the story of their discovery and subsequent journey. Acting on the star’s message, they began a trek from their own respective regions to find the new king. They took gifts befitting a king: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When they found Mary, Joseph, and the baby, they “opened their treasures.” Their rich gifts financed the Holy Family’s journey to Egypt soon after.
Why should we care about Epiphany? Because we are among the “everyone” for whom God sent Jesus! The January 6th Feast of Epiphany (the 12th day of Christmas) assures us that God meant for all searchers to find, and be found by, the Savior Christ Jesus.
Written by parishioner Phyllis Gilbert. The image above is a painting of Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, titled The Adoration of the Magi.