Merry Christmas! Yes, I know it’s January. But we’re now in the Epiphany Season - the Gentile Christmas. It’s called that because we begin Epiphany by remembering the Magi’s visit to the child Jesus. So early in Jesus’ life God was already showing that His Son did not come for any one nation or group of people, He came for everyone who would recognize Him for who He was. As a matter of fact, the entire season of Epiphany is a celebration of God revealing Himself to us in His Son Jesus.
Epiphany is from a Greek word, meaning to “reveal” or “make manifest.” The season of Epiphany is our time to focus on the revelation of “who” Jesus is: both true God and true man. On the Festival of Epiphany we hear of the visit of the Wise Men - the Magi. In that event, these foreigners bowed down in acknowledgment that this child was indeed the Christ, the Son of God. Next we hear the account of the Baptism of Jesus. Here, God the Father confirms that this man standing in the water is His beloved Son. The following Sunday is the account of the changing of water into wine at Cana. Through this event, Jesus revealed His glory and His disciples put their faith in Him. Finally, it all wraps up with the Transfiguration where Jesus leaves no doubt by His appearance in shining light and by the testimony of Moses and Elijah that He is the God/Man come to save - a walk of salvation that will now go down the mountain and head to the cross. In all these ways, God is shining the light of His love on a dark and sin-filled world by revealing to us our Savior Jesus.
Unfortunately, even though God has revealed the True Light in His Son Jesus, many misguided people still look for their Epiphany elsewhere. They grope around in their sin darkened world for some sort of light to show the way. Some people even still look to the stars for their Epiphany - their revelation. For them, the stars are bright and lonely orphans wandering the Godless heavens. They finds comfort in this thought. If there is no God, there is no judgement, and no sin. My morals are as good as yours. Yet those who ignore the sword of judgement, also find no justice, no hope, and no peace. By searching the Godless heavens, they come to their epiphany: Life is pointless. They have no light at all. They have no hope.
But we are not like them. We know that God exists. For these lost souls we must bring the Gospel of Jesus. It will be a difficult task because mankind’s natural sinfulness will always try to stand alone and deny God. But like a candle in a darkened room - no matter the darkness, it cannot ignore the light. Shine the light of the Gospel and let God do the rest.
Still today we search for God. Like the Magi before us, we will not find Him in distant skies, or in palaces, or in our own minds. Instead, like them, we go to the place His Word says He will be: In the waters of Holy Baptism, in His Holy Supper, and in His Word proclaimed. Where Jesus promises to be - there He is!
We may indeed find God in other places as well, and the stars do proclaim His glory, but His mercy and love will not be found in them. Water, bread and wine, and words that come from mouths like yours and mine may not flash with heavenly glory. Nevertheless, they are where we will find our God. In them we have found our light - our epiphany: God is with us. Jesus has saved us from our sin. We will live with Him forever in eternal light. So, Merry Christmas!