Today, January 6, is the holiday of Epiphany. It is a date commemorated in both the eastern and western Christian churches, though many western Christian denominations do not celebrate it in any way today. I remember mentioning it once to a friend who is Seventh Day Adventist, and she didn’t even know what Epiphany was.
Epiphany falls 12 days after Christmas, and is the source of the 12 Days of Christmas (which contrary to popular belief are not the 12 days prior to Christmas). Epiphany, based on the Greek word epiphaneia (ἐπιφάνεια), which means “appearance,” is the celebration of the appearance or incarnation of God to the Gentiles or non-Jews. In the western church, the focus is on the visit of the Magi to honor Jesus as the newborn King. In the eastern church, the focus is on the baptism of Christ, when He first appeared to the whole world as the Son of God when the Dove came to rest upon Him. In either case, the focus is not on His birth, which is the focus of Christmas, but rather on the fact that He is the incarnation of God for all people.
The primary way I have personally commemorated Epiphany (though I didn’t do it this year) is that when I set up my Nativity sets for Christmas I place the Magi somewhere different from the rest of the Nativity scene. This is because the Magi were still traveling at Christmas and traditionally it is thought that they arrived some time after the actual birth of Jesus. One year I even moved them closer and closer to the Nativity scene throughout Advent and the days following Christmas until they finally “arrived” to honor the baby Jesus on January 6.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for Epiphany more often refers to the prophecy of Christ’s Second Coming rather than His first appearance in the manger. Paul uses the Greek word epiphaneia six times. 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10, 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13. All but one of these verses refer to the time when Jesus will appear once again. Only 2 Timothy 1:10 refers to His birth, and says, “And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.”
If you have wondered why my blog header had the Nativity scenes after Christmas was over, my anticipate of this holiday was the reason. But tomorrow I will be changing the header; I will be taking down the Nativity scenes with the Magi and putting up something different. But for today, I wish you all a blessed Epiphany!
If I remember correctly, my mother used to either not put out the Magi or put them somewhere else for the very same reason :). Blessings!
That’s cool! I guess the idea was original with me after all. 🙂 Peace, Linda
Here’s another reason to start the singing again :-)(Five golden riiings! Four calling birds…) lol
I too like the idea of moving the Magi on their journey. [I read somewhere that they found the family after they had left the manger. Can’t remember where or when so I’ll have to jiggle my memory switch a bit. Reference made to the wise men finding a ‘child’ as opposed to a ‘baby’ may have started this ball a rolling. Can’t remember but I’ll try to find the source.]
Bless you for sharing with us. Looks like the blog a day challenge is geared to fatten us 🙂 I’m looking forward!
Ann, I’ve heard that the Magi arrived when Jesus was older also, based in part on the Gospel account of their visit in Matthew 2, where it says, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” Since Jesus was born in a manger, some say if He was in a house then this must have occurred some time later. Also, because Herod then has all boys up to age 2 killed to try to get rid of Jesus this is an indication that he was older than a newborn when the Magi arrived and consulted with Herod. As far as I’m concerned, when exactly they arrived does not change the core of the Gospel, but is interesting to think about. Peace, Linda
Linda, I am one of those who didn’t know all of this about Epiphany! So, I got to pull up a desk and listen to you teach. Thank you soooo much. You are really good at explaining things and giving us scripture to help. Loved all the comments too. 🙂 I’ve been working on a little poem about not wanting to put Jesus back into the box after Christmas.
God bless you and your Epiphany day!
Deb, I’m glad I could share something you didn’t know about! It is hard to put Jesus back in the box, and I don’t think we really should, even if we have to put the ornaments and decorations away. Peace, Linda
Oh, Epiphany – the shadow of Christmas. Thank you so much for reminding me. It’s like a fragrance left behind – it’s good. And such rich biblical work. I heart this.
God Bless and Keep you and all of yours
Craig, I like that – “a fragrance left behind” – a good description of Epiphany. We usually leave our tree up until today, too, but this year it was too dry so it came down last week. :(. But the Nativities are all still up until tomorrow! Peace and a blessed New Year, Linda
Very interesting 🙂 I love the subject too, and your idea of moving the nativity figures closer each day is genius! If we ever find our figures we will have to do that next year.
Marie, Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment, and with a smiley face even. 🙂 I had trouble finding two of my Nativity sets this year, one of them the olivewood that’s in my blog header. I was happy when they were finally located! Peace and a blessed New Year to you, Linda
And to you 🙂 Ours is a knitted one!
I am glad I stumbled onto your post this afternoon. I loved it! I love the idea of placing the wisemen in a different place than the nativity. I usually keep my nativity up through today, too. But, this year, I am leaving Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus on my mantle as a daily reminder that He is with us now and always. Thank you for your wonderful words!
April, Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comment! I will have to check out your blog, too. It is so wonderful to connect with other believers here at WordPress. I like your idea of leaving Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus out all year. I actually have a set of 3 crosses (1 myrtlewood, 1 metal, and 1 crystal) that I keep out all year – my own Calvary – to remind me of how much God loves me (and to remind my family, too 🙂 ) Peace and a blessed New Year, Linda