This week sees the Feast of the Epiphany – January 6. It is the celebration of the coming of the magi to see the child born in Bethlehem. It is a turn in the story, the beginning of a new chapter where we move from the hiddeness of the stable and its events to the journey towards the transformation of the whole world.
The visitors of the Epiphany are often described as kings. In fact, they were more likely astrologers, magicians and interpreters of dreams and we are not told how many there were. What we know to be true is that in the ancient world professions led to great power and influence. To the author of the gospel, the magi are the embodiment of the old order of things; a world order grounded in fear, surrounded by magic and superstition to ward off the powers of evil.
y contrast, the birth in the stable announced the beginning of a new order grounded not in fear, but in love. God has come so we might live without anxiety knowing we are loved by a love that will not let us go. The visit to the child Jesus was the submission of the old to the new, of illusion giving way to truth, of oppression fading before freedom. Christ had come into the world to be a light to the world. The darkness gives way before the brilliance of new day.
The Eastern Orthodox Church observes Christmas on January 6. Their spirituality draws its strength and expression from the conviction and experience of incarnation – of “God with us.” They already know the significance of the movement from stable to journey, from hiddenness to proclamation, from fear to love, from death to life.
Let us join with them in the celebration of the coming of the Lord who confronts the darkness and lights up the world with the announcement that evil has lost its power for all time.
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves