An ‘epiphany’ is a moment of unveiling or realisation. So the epiphany of Jesus the manifestation of Jesus’ identity. It’s an answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”
In the Western churches, we associate the word “Epiphany” most closely associated with the star which guided the wise men to Bethlehem. The star helped them to realise for themselves who Jesus is. In their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the wise men show us that they recognise Jesus’ identity – as the one born to be our king and our priest, and the one who opens up salvation by dying for us.
In addition, we might think of the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, when the heavens opened and a voice from heaven declared Jesus to be God’s Son. Or, again, there was the wedding party which Jesus attended in Cana, when, in St John’s words, Jesus ‘manifested his glory’.
Or the time when, as a baby, Jesus was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem and declared to be a light for all nations. Or we might think of times in our own lives when Jesus’ identity has becomes clearer to us. Each instance, whether in the pages of the Bible or in our own experience, is an epiphany of Christ.
Epiphany is not just one day in the Church’s year, but rather a whole season. The Season of Epiphany runs throughout January. Sunday by Sunday in this season, we hear a range of stories from the Gospels – in all of them, Jesus’ identity is revealed to us. They are epiphanies, each one.
Epiphanytide a good time for each of us to give some quiet time to reassess who Jesus is for us and what that will mean for us in the coming year.
To find a list of our Sunday services in the Epiphany Season, click here.
Songs of thankfulness and praise, Jesus, Lord, to thee we raise, manifested by the star to the sages from afar. […] Manifest at Jordan’s stream, Prophet, Priest and King supreme; and at Cana, wedding guest, in thy Godhead manifest.
Christopher Wordsworth (19th century Bishop of Lincoln)