- Isaiah 60:1-6, 9
- Psalm 72:1-2, 10-14
- Ephesians 3:1-12
- Matthew 2:1-12
The Feast of the Epiphany, or Manifestation (revelation) of Christ to the Gentiles is observed on January 6 (or the Sunday before). Epiphany comes from the Greek word meaning “showing forth, appearance, manifestation, revelation.” The Feast of the Epiphany proclaims the good news that Jesus revealed God to all humanity.
At Christmas the church celebrates the birth of Jesus, when God entered fully into the human experience. The Feast of the Epiphany takes the Christmas proclamation a step further, when the divine revelation in Jesus was revealed to the world as the magi came from the east.
We hear the story of the magi only in the Gospel from Matthew. Magi (the root word of “magic”) were people who studied the movement of the stars to interpret their meaning, and these particular magi came from the east, following an unusual star. They were Gentiles, not Jews, and they worshipped the baby Jesus when they arrived in Bethlehem. The story of the magi that we know is grounded in legends that came out of the Middle Ages and described them as kings named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar.
The gifts of the magi (as described in Matthew) are also symbolic:
- Gold for royalty, wealth and the kingship of Christ
- Frankincense, made of gum from an Asian and African tree. It may be burned to produce aromatic smoke used in worship, and symbolizes divinity and prayer
- Myrrh is a bitter resin used in ancient times to anoint bodies before burial. It is a symbol of suffering and death, foretelling Christ’s giving of self through death.
Christians are to continue to “reveal the mystery” to the world. As God appeared to Jesus, so God appears through the Holy Spirit in the people of God who are the church.
- The Second Sunday After Christmas: Year A – January 2, 2011 (prayerbookguide.wordpress.com)
- Plan an Epiphany Party! (Building Faith)
- Living the Season: Epiphany (prayerbookguide.wordpress.com)
- Chalking the Door (Building Faith)