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Stewardship of the Goodnews

The question I ask myself every year as we move from the Season of Christmas (not just the Day, but all 12 :-) ) into the season of Epiphany is, “What exactly is an epiphany?” Everyone from Oprah to Mutual of Omaha is talking about realizations and awakenings, and many times these are referred to as “aha moments.” For many years I have left the season of Epiphany as just that, the aha moment, but as I again think about it this year, that seems maybe too casual.  If we leave Epiphany as just another “aha” falls flat, and doesn't encompass the fullness I think we as the church mean by Epiphany.

I found this quote this year, and I although it doesn't quite understand how Present God truly is in our world, it certainly has me thinking about Epiphany in a new way...

An epiphany is a realization; an opening; a portal to the Divine; growing up; a magic moment that impacts you and changes you forever and you can remember it as vividly as you experienced it; a moment that changes the lens through which you view your life; our soul scratching around our head and giving us a signal to guide our lives with; a moment of descending light, open knowledge, and choice; a drastic shift in energy and change of perspective that happens in the form of a moment of clarity; something that gives you the strength to take a different direction or move forward and opens up everything; a sense of wonderment; a clarifying direction; that moment where you know your life is never going to be the same...

A little background, the word epiphany originated in ancient Greece to describe revelations from the gods. The history of the word is fascinating. You see, Epiphany, when it’s capitalized, is the name of the Christian church celebration of the three wise men or magi coming to see the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. This is usually celebrated on January 6, and starts an Epiphany season that lasts until the first day of Lent. It is a season of new beginnings; after the visit of the magi, church feast days and readings recount the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, and Jesus’ first public miracle at Cana, where he turned water into wine. Epiphany, in its original form specifically meant “appearance” or “manifestation,” of God.

But by the mid-1600s, epiphany—with a lowercase e—was being used to refer to other manifestations of Christ and to appearances of divine beings in other religions. Today it carries a range of meanings, including “an intuitive grasp of reality,” “an illuminating discovery, realization, disclosure, or insight,” or simply “a revealing scene or moment.” This year my definition has sharpened quite a bit and is something more akin to: “a moment of sudden or great realization about life and faith that changes you in some way.”  As faithful people, we know these moments all to well, as God continually gifts them to us.

This year as we move through the season of Christmas and into the Season and Stories of Epiphany, I hope we can be as filled with awe and wonder with what God has done, and is still doing for us, as those present some 2000 years ago...