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The Feast of the Epiphany

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." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Matthew 2:1-12, NRSV

The Feast of the Epiphany is when we celebrate that God has revealed Himself to the people of the earth in the infant Jesus. God incarnate was revealed to those wise men who were searching for Him, as best as they knew how, following the star that would lead them to the Messiah, a child, who had been born king of the Jews. It is interesting to remember that an ‘epiphany’ is not a discovery of new knowledge; it is the revealing of something that already exists. In this case, the revelation is the Word becoming flesh–God making Himself known in Jesus Christ. The wise men did not make a discovery of something new when they found Jesus. When the star stopped over Bethlehem, they were overwhelmed with joy. The truth of Jesus–God incarnate–was revealed to them when they arrived at the house and saw the baby in the arms of Mary, His mother. They came seeking the Messiah, and the truth of God was made known to them. They did not passively stand back, waiting for the truth to come to them. They followed the star. Similarly, as we long to encounter more of God’s self in His Son, we are called to seek and follow Him, to keep our eyes open, as well as our hearts and minds, and to press after Him that we might be ready for when He reveals Himself to us.

Collect for Epiphany
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
(BCP, p.214)
The Rev. Lisa R. Neilson
Associate for Pastoral Care and Women's Ministries
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