“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
Dear friends in Christ,
As we begin our new calendar year, we also begin a new season of the church, the season of Epiphany. The word epiphany is a Greek word which means “manifestation” or “appearance.” Epiphany, which comes on January 6th, ends the Christmas season each year. This is where the 12 days of Christmas comes from. On this day we celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the world, recalling the visit of the Magi (Mt 2:1-12). The number of Magi is not known, but the fact that there were three gifts (Mt 2:11) may account for the idea of three Magi. The Magi were likely Persian astronomers from the region of present day Iran. They were therefore Gentiles and not Jews. That is why the Epiphany festival celebrates the revelation of Jesus as the Christ to the whole world.
The gifts the Magi brought included gold – gold was valuable, a gift fit for a king. They brought Frankincense which was a type of incense used in worship – symbolizing prayers rising to God. And they brought Myrrh which was a fragrant resin used in oil for anointing and to prepare a body for burial (John 19:39).
The Epiphany season serves our church year by bridging Christ’s incarnation or God’s coming in the flesh, and Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. During the Epiphany season this year, our gospel readings from Mark will celebrate the revelation of Jesus as the Christ, the Savior of the world, particularly in such events as the healing miracles that Jesus performs and the calling of his disciples who will proclaim this ‘good news’ to the world. This calling did not end there however; Jesus continues to call disciples – you and me – to proclaim this ‘good news’ to the world. As we walk through this Epiphany season, listen carefully for your name to be called and look around you for the miraculous things taking place.
In Christ, Pastor Jay
(Epiphany information comes from the “Worship Wordbook,” 1995 published by Augsburg Fortress.)