Today’s author is Prince of Peace member, Scott Tunseth.

In the church calendar, the Day of Epiphany is January 6. The length of the season of Epiphany depends on the date of Easter and lasts till the beginning of Lent. This year there are just six Sundays in Epiphany because Easter is relatively early, and Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14.

Epiphany means “appearance,” “to show,” or “to make known. It was first observed in the eastern part of the Christian church as a feast commemorating Jesus’ baptism as an adult. In the fourth century it became a celebration of Christ being made known to the gentiles, beginning with the wisemen (magi) who came from the East to worship the Christ child (Matthew 2:1-12). Because Jesus Christ is a gift of salvation for all nations, Christians are encouraged to share the good news of Jesus with all people. Another theme of Epiphany is God’s light overcoming the darkness of evil and sin.

The color of Epiphany Day is white for light and purity. The liturgical color for two other important days celebrated during Epiphany, the Baptism of Jesus and the Transfiguration of Jesus, is also white. White is a reminder of baptismal robes or gowns and the gleaming white of Jesus’ clothes when he was on the mountain of transfiguration. On other Sundays in Epiphany, the color is green. Because we are following the Narrative Lectionary rather than the Standard Lectionary, we already celebrated the Baptism of Jesus at our December 31 worship.

The star that guided the magi to Bethlehem is one symbol of Epiphany. Another traditional symbol is three crowns for the three kings, though they weren’t kings and we don’t know how many actually came to Bethlehem. The assumption is three because of the three gifts given—gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

One of the most interesting celebrations of Epiphany comes from Russia where Orthodox Christians make cross-shaped holes in an icy river or lake and dive in. Some submerge their bodies in the icy water three time to symbolize the Holy Trinity. Personally, I’m glad that tradition has not caught on widely.

I like this stained-glass depiction of Epiphany (see below) which comes from the Congregation of the Sisters of Loretto, whose faith statement says, “We work for justice and act for peace because the gospel urges us.” They also have written a brief message about this stained glass, and I liked their final thought: “God appeared to us in Jesus. Because of Jesus’ coming we must be a continuing appearance of God’s love to those we serve.”

Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory; blaze Spirit blaze, set our hearts on fire. Flow river flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy; send forth your Word, Lord, and let there be light! Amen. (ELW 671)