Sunday, January 6, 2013
Epiphany, which means “manifestation” or “showing forth,” celebrates the sacrificial gift of Christ coming for the whole world. Epiphany is often associated with the story of the visit from the Magi, which represents Christ’s first appearance to the Gentiles.
Traditionally, Epiphany is a time of extravagant giving. Not to be confused with giving only material things, extravagant giving is sacrificial giving. Something that costs you something greatly, but is done out of such great love that you don’t even count the cost. Sometimes this giving is material, but other times it is just a matter of giving someone the gift of time or service, or of a listening ear, perhaps in a time that doesn’t seem very convenient to us. Think of Mary in John 12, who showers Jesus with ridiculously expensive perfume. This gift may have cost her her dowry, the means to marry, which in her culture did not give her many options. This gift was out of love for Jesus. It was extravagant because of the great cost, both monetarily and the possible cost of her well-being. God gave us His Son, a very costly gift, but out of great joy, and so that we might know Him, how much He loves us, and to redeem us.
The Magi were willing to leave everything behind to follow a star that led to Jesus. What costs are associated with our following of Jesus? What does it look like to give extravagantly to our friends, family, and neighbors? How does this giving prepare us to give outside of our comfort zone (whether God is calling you to another country or to care for others in your current community)?
Some traditions that happen on Epiphany include the taking down of Christmas decorations, and a house blessing. The taking down of the Christmas decorations is a tangible way to mark the end of the Christmas season, and the house blessing is to bless you as you come and go, for all that you may encounter in the everyday parts of life, and for those who might be a guest or seek refuge in your home, that they may see Christ in you, and that you may see Christ in them.
Sunday January 6 Epiphany
Epiphany of the Lord
Questions/Thoughts: To who or to where do you think that God has called you? What about this is scary? What about this brings you great joy?
As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold,
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore your splendor see.
Holy Jesus, ev’ry day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds your glory hide.