Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Manifestation of God

Epiphany is observed in the Western Christian tradition on the 6th of January. It marks, generally, another "coming" or revealing of Jesus in the world. For this reason it is often called "Little Christmas." Epiphany as a revealing includes aspects of three events in the life of Jesus. The first is the arrival of the Magi to honor Him. This is the closest of the three to a Christmas relationship for the observance and is likely the reason its other name is Little Christmas and a small gift exchange is often observed on this day. A critical aspect of this day is that in visiting the Babe, the Christ was manifested to Gentiles. This day then marks the fact that Jesus came to the entire world and not just Israel.

The second theme in Epiphany is the marriage at Cana, specifically but not limited to Jesus' first miracle. As his first miracle, the changing of water to wine revealed Jesus' power in the world. As such, it serves as another manifestation of Jesus to humans. It is appropriate that a wedding provides this setting because both God and Jesus are pictured as husbands or bride grooms. As such, they pursue humanity seeking to join with us in a most intimate way. This caring for people at a wedding party reveals our God as seeking to "marry" us and give us great gifts.

The third aspect of Jesus' life normally associated with Epiphany is His baptism. At His baptism Jesus tells us that He is baptized to "fulfill all righteousness." He is revealed as the one in whom God is well pleased and to whom we are urged to listen. Two imprimaturs are given to Jesus in this event. The voice of God says He is God's Son, and a dove lands on Jesus as evidence of Holy Spirit power within Him.

The baptism of Jesus is one of the stories that we find in all four Gospels, and it gives us an opportunity to remind us of God as we emerge from the bustle and haze of Christmas and begin a new year. Rather than looking back a couple thousand years to the birth of a child, Epiphany allows us to look forward to life with an empowered and legitimate Messiah with whom we are invited to live into the future.

On the 6th, read the stories referenced above and reflect on what it means to you that your Savior is active in the world and asks you to join Him.

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