The season of Epiphany (not the day) doesn’t get a whole lot of publicity.
I get it … but it’s a shame.
Epiphany is the season in the church calendar (or at least many of them) that follows Christmas and precedes Lent. While it may not have the flash of Easter or even Advent, Epiphany “celebrates” something that is very important to me personally.
Epiphany comes from Greek and literally means “reveal”. Another word often used to convey its meaning is “appearance”. Traditionally celebrated, the season often focuses on the stories in our Gospels that showcase the divinity of Christ; the revelation that Jesus is God.
To give a bit of background; I tend to be a bit of a thinker. There are plenty of people out there who simply accept whatever is given to them or at least lean toward belief, but I tend to the other end of the sliding scale. I tend to disbelieve anything until it either makes sense to me logically or it “feels consistent” with what I know to be true already.
And for that reason, much of our bible has always been a challenge for me. There is a lot in there that just doesn’t make sense when read literally and there are a lot of “inconsistencies”; things that simply don’t feel right based on what I know to be true.
As children, the first bible verse most of us ever learn is John 3:16; “For God so loved the world …” and this is the starting point of my faith as well.
God loved …
In my early years, much of what we learn is about how much God loves us.
And this is good.
But in this process of learning how much “God loves”, I started to notice that large parts of the bible were being ignored and some stories were being told from the viewpoint of the person being loved without mentioning the people being crushed to prove that love to a certain group of people.
Things didn’t seem consistent with what I knew to be true about God. And so began my struggle – my belief and understanding that a God of love is the driving force of existence is unshakeable, and yet much of what we teach, proclaim, or sweep under a carpet suggests something different at first glance.
Throughout my life’s journey, I have questioned everything more than once. And yet the truth of Epiphany is what keeps me coming back.
Jesus reveals God.
A light shines in the darkness …
If you read through the Gospel of John (and elsewhere) you will find the reason Jesus came was to reveal the father. The Gospel starts by saying no one had ever seen God, but Jesus perfectly makes him known.
Later, in John 17, we have the following proclamations:
“Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”
“I have revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world.”
“I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them …”
At the end of his time on earth, Jesus is praying to his father and he multiple times mentions the fact that he has revealed to his followers once and for all who God truly is.
The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the complete revelation of who God is.
And this is what Epiphany celebrates; Jesus reveals God.
This fact alone is what keeps me clinging to my faith when nothing makes sense; a loving God makes sense with what I know and see in the world.
This is what helps me when everything I see – in our bibles, our theology, or the way the church acts out the “way of Jesus” – seems to contradict the existence of a loving God. If Jesus reveals God, everything that does not look like Jesus at first glance deserves another closer look … and another … and another until perfect grace and love appears from the ashes.
I constantly need a new revelation about how to act out the way of Jesus. Because if it doesn’t look like Jesus, it’s not true.
A light needs to shine in the darkness …
Thank God for Epiphany. It’s what brought me here. It’s what keeps me here.