An Epiphany Message from the Dean

JANUARY 6, 2014

“Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up.”
Jesse Jackson

God led those long ago Magi by a star. That was the Divine Way to manifest to the peoples of the earth that something new was happening – heaven breaking into the human condition, as God became one of us. Creation was made new as the divine and human kissed each other in Christ. The promise was not only that we would see that glory “face to face” in Jesus of Nazareth, but also that we could discover Christ in everyone, everywhere.

Isaiah (60:1-6), before that birth, bid us to “Arise, shine,” because our light would come and the glory of the LORD would be upon us:

For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses' arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6 and concludes the Twelve Days of Christmas. The Western Christians observe the visitation of the Magi just as the Eastern Christians focus on the baptism of Jesus, and both celebrate the manifestation of the Son of God. The Star of Bethlehem indicated the coming of the Christ. But the Scriptures spoke of that sign as an indication that the redemptive promise, which had been foretold long before the Magi ever made their journey, was being fulfilled. The word “zodiac” comes from the Greek word zodiakos, with the root zoad meaning of “a path or way or going by steps.” The zodiac circle represents the path along which the sun travels through the stars during the twelve months of the year. The season of Epiphany takes us into a time of transforming signs that point us to and engage us in mission.

Because Epiphany means "manifestation," we may ironically limit it by assuming that such signs are always divine. Perhaps the epiphanies we need today are those realizations or insights – sudden or slowly coming into focus – that help to catalyze the changes we need in our lives. Sometimes we look up to see what new thing God is asking of us. At other times, our eyes are opened to something alongside us – possibly something that has been waiting for us to be awakened to how it can transform us as the world yearns for light in the darkness. Then we arise again to follow the star, daring to do something great for God.