On January 6, the second-most important day in the Christian calendar was celebrated. Did you have an Epiphany celebration on Friday? Epiphany rightfully belongs in the upper tier of Christian holy days. It is as important as Christmas day. And western Christianity has lost something in forgetting the Epiphany.
Epiphany predates Christmas. It commemorates the ways Jesus is ‘revealed’ or manifested among us…meaning when we got the idea that this dude was indeed God in the flesh. We didn’t understand this all at once. In fact, we are still trying to get the full understanding. But there were events that ‘cracked open the door’ to let us see into the realm of Christ a little bit clearer. In the 2nd century, Christians came to identify 3 events as “revealing” to the nature of Christ: 1) the visit of the Magi, 2) the baptism of Christ and 3) the miracle at the wedding in Cana (water into wine).
The visit of the Magi is a crude overturning of convention. He wasn’t their king. In fact the people to whom Jesus was born were tiny in their day. Also, with the purity standards in Judaism, that the pronouncement of royalty upon a laborer’s child was made by foreigners is almost heretical. In the past, only the holiest of prophets, Samuel, pronounced someone king. But nothing was normal about this campaign. Much is often made of the wisdom of the Magi. Perhaps we ought to take more stock of the fact that they were unconventional and foreign.
It is the foreignness of the Magi that tells us something new about Jesus: he may have been born King of the Jews, but his reign matters to all of us. Epiphany is a holy celebration because the Kingdom of God has been revealed as welcoming of us all.
All that sounds great, right? But many are still on the outside of the kingdom looking in. The ways of the world betray the truth that God’s kingdom equalizes us. Rat races, geopolitical movements, zero-sum games, everyday iniquities still seek to place people in categories of ‘greater-than’ or ‘lesser-than’.
May I suggest that God may be calling a new crop of Magi? A collection of people dedicated to finding Christ in unconventional places. A collection of people willing to go out and look into the shadowy stables of our world. A collection of people noticing and following the signs of God’s movement in our world. This new crop of Magi have a divide task of revealing the Christ child to a new set of people.
In what ways may God be calling us into this holy task of revealing the Lord to others? Throughout the generations, God raises up wise ones willing to seek, to follow and to reveal the Christ. Perhaps it is time to gather our gifts and begin the journey.