Epiphany is the holiday that Wise Men remember, but the church forgot. Epiphany falls on January 6, 12 days after Christmas—the day you're supposed to get 12 drummers drumming—and the day we commonly remember the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem. For those few who might have heard of Epiphany, chances are that you will know it as the day the Wise Men came. And that is right—partially. The word Epiphany means "manifestation" or "revelation." The coming of the Wise Men is celebrated as the time that Jesus as Messiah was revealed to the Gentiles. The Christmas story is seen to symbolize the spread of the Gospel—first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles; first to the poor, then to the rich; first to the ones who kept the Temple flocks in accordance with Jewish law, then to pagan astrologers, whose occupation the law expressly forbid.
So why doesn't the church celebrate Epiphany anymore? There may be several answers, but one of them is that, for the most part, we no longer expect Christ to be made manifest. We have stopped looking for the revelation of Jesus as God's son. The early church was a church full of excitement and expectation. They anticipated the return of Christ at any time, and the persecutions which they faced forced them to be aware of their faith and to live out or die for their faith every place they went, every minute of their lives.
Many Christians today have lost that sense of excitement and expectation. The early church celebrated Epiphany with the emphasis on God's present manifestations to us and the expectation of God's future and ultimate revelation. The point wasn't to remember history, but to be reminded that God appears miraculously to us in places and in ways that we don't expect.
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