Growing up in a less formal, Pentecostal worship environment as a young Christian, I don’t recall the Advent season ever being spoken of as such. I knew nothing about the lighting of Advent candles or that there was any special meaning attached to them during the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and the following Sundays. A precious part of my young spiritual journey went missing for me, one that I now enjoy with the lighting of every candle, in our home as well as at church. Don’t rob your children of the true meaning of the Advent season and Christmas celebration.
As ignorant as I was about Advent, I knew nothing of the season of Epiphany. It sounded suspiciously like something “Catholics” might do, not Bible-believers like us. Sound familiar to you? I hope not. This shouldn’t be our normal spiritual fare. It is like filling up on desserts and ignoring the main entree. Anyway, now I’m on one of my rare church calendar rolls, so hang with me while we unpack Epiphany 2016.
Epiphany, from the Greek, epiphaneia means “manifestation,” and commemorates the first manifestation or revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ (worth celebrating, right?). Western Christians commemorate this physical manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12). Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.
Whichever epiphany you choose, maybe it’s time for one on a personal level. Let’s begin this next year with a really big “aha” moment, an insight staggering in its suddenness. If you behold an early morning desert sunrise, or gaze at snow-covered fields at dawn, or glimpse the early morning light between city skyscrapers, just stop!
Take it all in. Breathe in the amazement. See it for the first time! The Creator of all things, the Eternal Light of the world has come to us in space, time and history. The Divine Son became human like us, lived among us, died for us, rose triumphant before us, and sent the Holy Spirit to us, so that we could be like him.
It’s an “epiphany” we’ve all been given, with divine orders to stir the glowing embers of our peers and leave the Light on for the next generation!