Epiphany must be one of the most ironically-named items among those in the liturgical year.
Check your dictionary; epiphany means:
- a Christian festival observed on January 6 commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi.
- an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity.
- a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into, the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by something simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Simple enough, it seems, unless you Google it and find that in different fellowships it may be celebrated as a single-day festival, or the culmination of the Twelve Days of Christmas, or as an entire season after them but before Lent. It may also recognize the birth/nativity story of Jesus, His baptism, and/or the miracle of the wine at the wedding feast at Cana!
It seems that you have to have an epiphany in order to know which Epiphany to celebrate. The closest thing I’ve had is the thought that all of those events do indeed herald Jesus as Christ: to His mother, to the Magi, to the shepherds, to John the baptizer and his disciples at the Jordan, to His own friends at a wedding.
However you celebrate yours – and for however long – I hope you’ll spend a few moments of it examining an epiphany that Fred Craddock had, shared in a classic issue of New Wineskins under the title The Hard Side of Epiphany:
If you plan to herald Jesus as Christ, prepare to be opposed.