Epiphany for the Souls

Jennifer Merck shares some thoughts on the season of Epiphany.

Christmas is familiar around the world. Advent has become familiar in many types of churches. But what is Epiphany, and why do we celebrate it?

One popular reference worth noting is that the traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas” are the days from Christmas to Epiphany, January 6. Epiphany, in fact, is “Twelfth Night,” as referenced in Shakespeare’s play.

Epiphany is the day when we remember the Magi, who came to visit the Newborn King. Was it actually 12 days after Jesus was born in Bethlehem? Did the Magi come to the stable? Or did they visit 2 years later, perhaps in Egypt, after Joseph, Mary, and the Baby fled Herod’s reign of terror? We’re not quite sure.

We do know that the word “epiphany” means “manifestation” or “revelation.” The three wise men represent the nations of the world. They came to worship the Newborn King, and then went “home by another way” (Matthew 2:12).

In guiding the Magi to the Christ — the Messiah, and then sending them home, God made Himself manifest — that is, He revealed Himself — to the nations of the world.

God revealed to the nations.
God revealed to the Gentiles.
God revealed to us.

In the midst of winter, a pandemic, and challenging parish issues, I wonder how God is revealing Himself today. How is He made manifest? I find myself turning to a favorite poem, aptly named “Epiphany.”


(Madeleine L’Engle)

Unclench your fists.
Hold out your hands.
Take mine.
Let us hold each other.
Thus is his Glory Manifest.