I love dimmer switches. There is something wonderful about being able to take things slowly from dark to light, and in some ways, the season of Epiphany is a bit like a dimmer switch. It is during this particular liturgical season that the light begins to slowly brighten and we see Jesus more and more clearly.
The season of Epiphany begins with the feast of Epiphany on January 6 and ends the day before Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent). Depending on when Easter falls, this time of the church calendar can be as short as 4 week or as long as 9 weeks. The word Epiphany literally means “to appear” or “to bring to light” (hence dimmer switch) – it’s a season of increasing light and ends with the lights on maximum: Transfiguration Sunday – where Jesus’ glory is revealed to the disciples and they and we catch a glimpse of divine nature.
Epiphany emphasizes three key stories from the life of Jesus. The first is the visit of the Magi (the three wise men) from the East. A major theme of Epiphany is that Jesus came for all people and the three foreign visitors who worship at Jesus’ feet symbolize this, good news for the whole world. The second story is the Baptism of Jesus – Jesus completely identifies with humanity in being baptized in the river and the dimmer switch gets turned up a few notches – the heavens announce “Jesus is the Beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased”. The third is Jesus’ first miracle – changing water to wine at a wedding feast in Cana. The changing of the empty Jewish water basins into lavish amounts of wine symbolizes the intoxicating love, grace and generosity of the Kingdom of God that Jesus came to initiate.
Epiphany is a rich, but unfamiliar and often overlooked season. January is considered a cold and dark month – the lights and merriment of the Christmas season is over, the new year has begun and we’re back at the daily grind. Culturally, these weeks are marked by drudgery, obligation, and a return to routine. But liturgically, Epiphany is a season of quiet hope with a watchful eye towards God’s promise to bring wholeness to the entire galaxy in the person of Jesus. It’s also a time of spreading this good news. We look for little ways to spread hope to those caught in a hurried consumerism and momentary pleasure seeking. We pray for our friends, neighbors, relatives, children, family members and spouses who don’t know Jesus yet.
We believe and live with boldness that “in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).
If you want to join us in embracing Epiphany, here are some things to reflect on and challenge yourself with this season.
- How might your understanding of Jesus grow during this season that symbolically is about illuminating new ideas and thus revelation?
- Invite a friend out for coffee or tea. Together share your spiritual stories and look for signs of increasing insight into God’s true nature.
- Identify one person in your life who doesn’t know or understand the Good News of “God with us” – commit to pray for that person during the season of Epiphany.