This coming Sunday, January 6, is known as the Feast of the Epiphany, a time when most Christians remember this day as the one where the Magi — the Wise Men — visited Jesus after traversing from far off following the “Star in the East.” Epiphany is also known as the Twelfth Night because it is the culmination of the 12 Days of Christmas.
It is the most ancient of the Christmas festivals and originally the most important. Since January 6 is most often a weekday, liturgical Protestants sometimes shift the celebration of Epiphany to the Sunday immediately following the 6th. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek noun epiphaneia, which means “shining forth,” or a “manifestation.”
In the ancient Greco-Roman world, early Christians established The Epiphany of our Lord as a Christian festival that celebrates the many ways through signs, miracles, and preaching that Jesus revealed Himself to the world as Christ, God Incarnate, and King of kings. Thus, when the Wise Men brought gifts and journeyed to worship the newborn king, there was a manifestation of divine nature of the Christ Child.
Epiphany is one of the most important festivals of the liturgical year because it shows the church how God comes to us. God took the initiative and came to us by becoming one of us. The most holy and almighty God condescended to take on human flesh in order to reveal the promise of salvation to the world. This is the divine mystery of the Epiphany of our Lord.
With that in mind, let me remind you that this coming Sunday as we celebrate the visit of the mysterious Magi, and start the New Year together in worship, I will share a final message for this holy Christmastide that is titled “What Made the Wise Men Wise?”
Next Sunday I will begin the eight-part sermon series I have been talking about for a few weeks: “The Reasons I Believe: A Sober Defense of Christian Faith.”
I have struggled with many motifs in Christian theology and wrangled with the dark side of Christian history, such as the Inquisition, the Crusades, anti-Semitism, and blatant bigotry. Today, in our sound-bite, social media-saturated world, Christianity is still being challenged and we find it much too convenient to bypass the tough questions about our religious beliefs. When someone poses a question about your faith, you should be able to clearly and intelligently articulate why Christianity still makes sense. Beginning next week, I’m going to tell you why I still believe. Together, we’ll get to the core of Christianity.
I look forward to being back with you this Sunday!
P.S. Tami and I would like to thank you all for your prayers, well-wishes, and the tremendous outpouring of love you bestowed upon us, my daughter Kaitlyn, my son-in-law Patrick, and their new baby boy, Madison Wallace McCormick. Kaitlyn and Madison are home and settling in beautifully and Tami and I are enjoying this grandparenting thing very much!