If you’ve ever been sitting in a dark theater when, suddenly, a single spotlight brilliantly illuminates one character on the stage, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Epiphany is all about. Epiphany, which we celebrate this Sunday, is the day when we contemplate and celebrate God’s full revelation of himself in Jesus. The Greek word from which “Epiphany” comes means “to appear, to give light,” or, in the passive voice, “to be revealed.” On Epiphany, we celebrate that Jesus himself is the appearance, the revelation of the fullness of who God is. It’s as if, when Jesus came into the world, a spotlight ripped through the darkness and brilliantly illuminated God in all his love, mercy, justice, and glory.
There are a few key moments in Jesus’ life that we highlight as we celebrate Epiphany: the coming of the Magi, signaling the revelation of the gospel to the Gentiles; the infant Jesus’ presentation in the temple, when Simeon and Anna recognized him and proclaimed him as the Savior; Jesus’ baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove, and the Father declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” In each of these moments, it was as though a spotlight shone on Jesus as he was revealed to be the Messiah.
We’ve got two exciting things happening as we celebrate Epiphany on Sunday. We’ll have baptisms at all three services, recalling that the love and forgiveness revealed in Jesus are what brings us into relationship with God. And we’ll debut a new Eucharistic liturgy that comes to us from the Anglican Church of Ireland. It’s a rich and beautiful liturgy, one that captures the themes of Epiphany well. I hope you’ll listen for them.
And I hope you’ll take some time before Sunday to read and consider the post-communion prayer that we’ll pray together. It helps us give thanks for what Jesus, in his life, death, and resurrection, has done for us. And it reminds us that, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, God continues to reveal Jesus’ glory in and through us:
Father of all, we give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living, he declared your love, gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory. May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, so we and all your children shall be free, and the whole earth live to praise your name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.