6th January is the Christian celebration of Epiphany. Yet unlike its more popular cousin, Christmas, Epiphany is often not noticed and celebrated by many. Which is a shame, because Epiphany tells us who the gift of Christmas is for.
If you are given a gift which is wrapped, it’s often fun to try and guess what the gift might be. You can shake it, poke it, listen to it or squeeze it in an attempt to discern the gift under the wrapping paper. But there is only one sure way to know what the gift truly it. You need to unwrap the present and reveal the gift underneath.
That’s what the word ‘Epiphany’ means: to reveal, to unwrap and discover what something is. As Christians, Epiphany is all about revealing who Jesus is. Just as we unwrap presents at Christmas, we can open up the Bible and see who Jesus is. He is Immanuel, God with us.
But Epiphany tells us something else as well. It tells us who this gift is for. If you have a present, it can be simple to see who it’s for – you look at the gift tag. By reading the tag attached to the gift you can see who it is addressed to.
The other way you can see who a present is for, however, is to see who comes to receive it.
Epiphany in the point in the church’s calendar when we remember the visit of the wise men, or magi (or kings) to visit Jesus. We often think of there being three of them, because they brought three kinds of presents, but we don’t really know how many there were.
What is more important, however, is where they came from. Matthew tells us that the magi came “from the east” (Matthew 2:1). That could be a country just to the east of Israel, or it could be much further away, perhaps even China.
Wherever they started their journey, the crucial fact is that they came from another country. This is important, because up to this point God had worked through one set of people – the people of Isaiah. But now people from another land come to find Jesus and worship him. They came to receive God’s amazing gift.
The visit of the magi at Epiphany tells us that God’s gift of Jesus is for everyone everywhere. It’s not just for one group or nationality or people from a certain place. It’s for anyone!
That’s good news, because it means that God’s amazing gift of Jesus is for you and me. There is nothing stopping anyone from receiving God’s gift. Not your age, or your nationality, or your education, or your background, or anything at all. God’s amazing gift is for everyone.
So let’s celebrate Epiphany this year, because it reminds us that the amazing gift of life and love that God gives through Jesus is for anyone who could come and receive it.
Rev Dan Wells from his Keeping the Heart blog