Reflections on Epiphany

Statue of St. Vincent DePaul outside DePaul Center in the Loop

Monday, January 7, 2019

This is probably the first year of my life I’ve ever spent much time reflecting on Epiphany. I know what it is, and I recall other’s ideas about it, perhaps even ones I heard in church. But I don’t remember ever taking much time to consider its significance myself until Sunday.

So, as we spent Sunday’s gathering at the Lillie’s celebrating Epiphany, we not only looked at the coming of the Magi in Matthew 2:1–12, but we also followed the rest of the Revised Common Lectionary readings from Psalm 72:1–14; Isaiah 60:1–6; and Ephesians 3:1–12.

Psalm 72 talks about the King of Israel, probably Solomon, being extended the righteous attributes of God, such as having compassion for weak and needy, opposing oppression, bringing justice to the poor, and being the helper for the helpless.

Isaiah 60 prophesies about the hope and redemption that is coming for Israel. That even as darkness covers the earth, hope and the light of God’s glory will be made known not only to them as God’s chosen people, but through them for the rest of the world.

Ephesians 3 talks about the shared inheritance that Jews and Gentiles alike have in complete access to God through Jesus Christ: complete access to God’s grace and complete access to God’s promises.

Epiphany is not only about acknowledging that the magi, but it is also about Christ being revealed to the Gentiles—Jesus is not a Messiah solely for the Jewish people. So it is fitting that these other passages, as Reuben mentioned, come together to reflect how God’s promise extends to all nations and all peoples—and reaches us.

We read the Matthew 2 passage about the magi searching for Jesus last. Reuben talked about how this must have been an awkward encounter. At least, for these “wise men” from the east to show up with these lavish gifts probably would have been a bit startling to Mary and Joseph.

And yet, Jesus still came, to be incarnate with us all.

And as Reuben guided us from reflecting upon the night in which the magi meet Jesus to the night that Jesus would be betrayed, we remembered that Christ still came, willing for his body to be broken and his blood to be shed for us all—bread that was broken for us and the blood that was shed for us.

Then after we finished our time of communion and prayer, Reuben mentioned how one of the specific reasons he treasures sharing in communion is that there are millions of people around the world also taking time for this same sacred act of remembrance.

And so even though we might know few of their names or faces, there is an experience of solidarity in our global faith community. We have yet another reminder that Christ came to prepare a seat at the table for everyone.

With this in mind, it seemed especially fitting to take up the task to pray for our sisters and brothers in other nations as Reuben suggested. To remember that as we come to a table that no one is excluded from, we might lift up the ministries and people of our global faith community.

So we concluded our gathering time praying for Singapore as the most recently recognized world area where the Church of the Nazarene has establish a presence. And Epiphany 2019 marks the beginning of a three-year project in which we will continue to pray for the a world area each week, going through a list of places around the globe where Nazarenes gather in worship.

What a way to commemorate Epiphany! That on the day we remember Jesus becoming incarnate not only for the Jews, but also for every other people and tribe, we might lift up all people everywhere for whom Christ makes God known.

Author avatar
Elise Fetzer

Elise is a senior Intercultural Studies major at Olivet Nazarene University from Oak Lawn, IL. She is serving with LoopNaz as part of her cross-cultural field studies coursework.