By: Maria Fee
Epiphany can be seen as manifestation of the divine. As Christians we believe God can break into our lives in real and tangible ways. Not as a distant fire or cloud, not like a scorching burning bush. Christmas means Epiphany came as a small vulnerable child needing to be held.
Epiphany also occurrs through the mundane rhythms of life: a maiden at her task, men in the Far East studying the sky, and shepherds tending fields nearby. To these folks Epiphany appeared in the ordinariness of being, a gift wrapped in occupational details.
Simeon’s Epiphany took place in the temple. Here the old man gains the peace to die. And so, with this strange appearance of a new kind of life, one that is fully divine and fully human, there comes a death. Epiphany bestows the peace necessary for self to die. This peace comes by way of the cradle and the cross—the natal incarnation of the Christ and his ignoble death.
In chapter 1 of Colossians we read about creation. We learn who made it, upholds it, and redeems it. We read how God reconciles all of it to himself: heaven and earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and visible. Jesus’ work in and through creation and his death are the Christmas gifts of Epiphany, the manifestation of the divine in ourlives. With his death our new birth and the birth of many of our creations become possible.
Those who have seen him re-orient their lives. Shepherds continue to shepherd, but because of Epiphany Christ deepens the meaning ofshepherd. The wise men, in order to protect their Epiphany, re-route their journey home. And if Jesus “is the image of the invisible God,” as a small and hungry baby he hallows every mother’s embrace. Christmas asks us to make room for both a birth and a death in the ordinariness of life.
Welcome the gift of Epiphany.