From: T.M. Schoewe
We apologize for being a bit tardy about writing on Epiphany, we definitely have not forgotten about it! Epiphany is the season of the church year which follows Christmas. As you know, the church year begins with advent and precedes the calendar year for about a month. And then we linger before Lent takes over. This lingering is the wonderful season we call Epiphany.
It began with the coming of the wise men (the Magi) who were probably scientists or astronomers in their day or at least students of the stars who perhaps studied about one special star that some prophecy spoke of. The appearance of that star led them west to Jerusalem where they asked “where is He that is born, King of the Jews?” Then they learned of the O.T. prophesy that the King’s birth would be in Bethlehem. So they headed back east and that strange star (stars move from east to west) moved east as well and led the wise men to the very house in Bethlehem where they see the young child with His mother Mary. With great joy they worship and present Him with their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Herod heard about this and was filled with fear and ordered hundreds of children in Bethlehem to be killed by the sword.
What an epiphany into the mystery of our Lord’s incarnation and how He was sent into the world to be born, live and die for us! The glory of the Epiphany season is that it shows in different ways the fact that God Himself took a human body. In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us. He reveals Himself in this holy act in order that we might not miss the meaning of His coming. The wise men see in the crying baby in the house of Bethlehem, the One that was shone by the star in the sky. They see in deep wonder as they gaze at this child, heaven on earth and earth in heaven, man in God and God in man, the One whom the whole world cannot contain, enclosed in a small baby. They look, they believe and no questions are asked. Their gifts said it all: gold to the King, incense to God, and myrrh for the One Who is to die for this world of sinners headed for the disaster of hell.
A couple more epiphanies follow His birth. First is when Jesus was 12 years of age and was lost for 3 days after going to the temple in Jerusalem. He had gone to the feast of the Passover with a pilgrimage of others from Nazareth. When they fulfill their obligations and begin their return home with the others they assume Jesus is with the other young people in their group. After a day they find Jesus is not with them. They rush back to the city and finally find Him after three days, sitting in the temple in the midst of doctors of law, probably not only answering their questions but asking them ones! So they are astonished at His wisdom. And when Mary rebukes Jesus for remaining in the city she is silenced with His words “How come you do not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” That was probably one of those sayings that she pondered in her heart until she stood beneath His cross.
What an Epiphany for us! The Father’s business in this world is Jesus! He was conceived, born, lived and died for this world which He had created. Now He sits at the right hand of Almighty God. That doesn’t mean He took a chair and sat down! It means He is the Father’s executive that has His hands in the affairs of the world and especially in His church, which by the Holy Spirit brings people into the body of Christ. That is the beautiful Epiphany of our little Lord Jesus lost in the temple at the age of twelve, but going about His Father’s business. This Epiphany lets the glory of God come into our lives. Our Lord lost in His Father’s House. He is truly human but also truly our Lord.
Here is another Epiphany, the baptism of Jesus at the age of 30 by his cousin John in the Jordan River. As Jesus enters the Jordan to wash away the sins of the world, John’s hands lay hold of Him not to forgive Him but to receive the forgiveness of his own sins; and he points the crowd to Jesus saying “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” And another voice is added as the psalmist prophesized “The voice of the Lord is heard above the waters” and it said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased, Hear Him.” A dove hovers above Jesus. You will remember it was a dove with a green leaf in its mouth that announced to Noah that the flood was disappearing from the earth. So too this day the Holy Spirit hovers over the waters of baptism like a dove revealing to us that the shipwreck of humanity is over, it has been thwarted; sin, death and hell have no dominion over us, they are wiped out for good!
This is an invitation which is even given to the atheist; if you have never been baptized, look into it, believe and be baptized. And if you have been baptized always remember who you are; you are a child of the Maker of heaven and earth Who will one day take you out of the dust to glory. That will be an Epiphany over which you will never get over.
P.S. From Joe to Joe, Happy 67th!