The Epiphany of the Lord
By Emily VanBerkum
The jubilation of Christmas Day does not end on December 25. In fact, so often, in the hustle and bustle of vacation plans, family gatherings, and boxing week shopping, we neglect to observe the entirety of the infancy narrative as it continues to unfold in Christmastide and the beginning of a new calendar year.
Today, we continue celebrating Jesus’ birth alongside the ‘wise men from the East’ who followed a bright star to the manager where He was born. When I was a child, my parents allowed me the coveted role of adding the wise men to our family’s nativity scene when we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. I remember staring at these elaborately painted wooden figures and letting my imagination soar. I would imagine the brilliant star in the sky, three men dressed in exotic robes, riding on camels through the uninhabited desert, with treasure chests of gifts fit for a king. This scene seemed totally normal to me. Eventually as I got older (and wiser myself), it dawned on me how completely out of place the wise men must have felt and how this scene was anything but ‘normal.’ I wondered what they thought when this star stopped above a humble manger only to see a small, dependent child be claimed by God as the ‘King of Kings.’ I pondered how their generous gifts befitting of royalty would be received by poor, virtually unknown refugees like Mary and Joseph on behalf of their new son?
The Feast of the Epiphany causes us to reflect on the awesomeness of the mystery of the incarnation. Jesus’ divine sonship was revealed to three people who traveled a great distance to pay Him homage- and discovered Jesus not in a palace but in a manager. So often (both biblically and in our own lives), God inverses our expectations. In the Christian story, God’s reversal of human expectation reaches its climax through Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. Yet, God so lovingly paves the way for us to encounter Jesus on the cross by first divinely ordaining Jesus’ breaking into human history as a King in a most unkingly way.
What does this action tell us about our God?
Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6