The mad rush of the holiday season is over. The church has moved through Advent and Christmas, Epiphany and Baptism of our Lord. Most of us have put away the Christmas decorations. It may feel like we are coasting until Easter. But, we are in an important time in the church year: the season after the Epiphany. What exactly is an epiphany? It comes from the Greek word “Epiphanea” meaning a manifestation or striking appearance. It is also an experience of a sudden intense realization. Epiphanies may happen in our relationships with others from time to time. We might suddenly realize that we care deeply for someone or that someone cares deeply for us. We could have a revelation of our own hidden motivations.
Epiphany, in the context of church, celebrates how God revealed God’s nature and intent to humans in marvelous ways through Jesus. We see it first at the celebration on the Feast of Epiphany. The people come from afar to offer homage to the infant Jesus. They have seen a star and recognized that a king had been born. These strangers from a foreign land represent all of us who come to God from narratives far removed from the stories of the people of Israel. This first revelation is for us: God is not a God for a few chosen people. God is God for everyone.
The Sunday lectionary then leads us through a pathway of various moments of revelation throughout Scripture. Within the Sundays after the Epiphany, we hear stories of the continuing revealing of the nature of Jesus and of God. Jesus at his baptism in the river Jordan is called out by God as the beloved Son. The Holy Spirit rests on him. These dramatic experiences point to the divinity of Jesus and are the starting point of his public ministry. We will hear next of John the Baptist encouraging his disciples to follow Jesus, the Lamb of God. John’s epiphany came as he recognized that his ministry must diminish, as Jesus’ ministry needed to grow.
As John points his disciples to Jesus, Jesus begins to call people by name to follow him. They must have recognized the call of the divine through Jesus, as they left their nets and livelihood and followed him. Jesus also taught people about the nature of God. We will hear again the reversal of popular thought in the Beatitudes: God doesn’t play favorites. All people are blessed by God. Jesus reveals more about who we are in relation to the world in his parables concerning light and fire. And, he teaches us about the intent behind the 10 Commandments, demanding of us a deeper understanding of how we are to be for each other.
The Last Sunday of the Epiphany is always reserved for the Transfiguration of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. This narrative brings the season of Epiphany back to were it started: with the divinity of Jesus. His true nature is revealed to those disciples who came with him to the mountain top. He also reveals the truth about how his life is about to be taken. The season of Epiphany maybe as short as four Sundays or as long as nine, depending on the date for Easter. This year we have 7 Sundays to hear about the unfolding revelation of Jesus. Please come and join the journey!