The Season of Epiphany
December 2008 Pastor's Newsletter Article
e-piph-a-ny (ĭ-pĭf′ə-nē) n., 1. A revelatory manifestation of a divine being. . A Christian festival held on January 6 in celebration of the manifestation of the divine nature of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. [Greek epiphaneia, appearance, from epiphanēs: appearing, manifest : epi (upon) + phainein (to shed light).]
The season of Epiphany is upon us; the season of light. It begins on the Festival of the Epiphany (January 6th) and runs through Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday, which is February 25th this year). It is a season of concentrating on the ways in which light is shed on the nature of God, especially through the person of Jesus, the Christ.
One of my favorite Epiphany stories - a "shedding light" story - is familiar to some of you. It tells of a guide who routinely took groups on a tour through a deep cave. When each group reached the point where they were as far as they would get from the entrance, the guide would switch off the electric lights that filled the cavern. What followed was absolute darkness - something that few people ever experience. It didn't take long before people became very uncomfortable. After a short time, when the tourists seemed to have reached their limit, the guide would light one single match. To those who were standing in the dark, that one match seemed as bright as a hundred spotlights! It seemed that they could see each other, the walkway, and the walls of the cavern every bit as well as when the electric lights were burning.
Light is never so powerful as when it is surrounded by darkness. Had the tour guide lit a single match before entering the cavern, few people would even have seen it in the bright light of day. But in the darkness of the cave, that one match seemed to have the ability to reveal everything that surrounded them.
Into the darkness of this world, came One whom our Scriptures refer to as The Light of the World. It is this light that captures our attention during the season of Epiphany. We focus on the ways in which the life and ministry of Jesus sheds light on how God is working among us. We focus, also, on how God's presence can light up the darkness of our own lives. Our God, who knows darkness, and who has defeated the power of darkness, desires to bring light and life to us, so that we might live with hope and joy and peace.
Epiphany is a time of studying the ways of God. But this is no academic exercise. It is a sacred opportunity - an opportunity to come to know better the One who loves us, who created us, and who desires to have a living and growing relationship with us. I hope you will come and join us, because this story - the story of God being revealed to us yet today - is an incomplete story unless each and every one of us is there to add our chapter.
A blessed Epiphany to each and every one of you. May the light of Christ which has come into this world light up your life, and fill you with God's great gifts of faith and hope and joy.
God's peace to you all,
David J. Risendal, Pastor