What is Epiphany?
What is Epiphany? When is Epiphany Sunday or Epiphany day? Why is Epiphany important to Christians? What is Epiphany Sunday all about? Did you know that Epiphany is also a season of the church calendar year? What does Epiphany have to do with the Christmas narrative? These are the questions I have been asked and have asked myself prior to becoming Methodist. In the Baptist church I grew up in, we did not use the word "epiphany" but rather lumped it into the Christmas narrative.
The word epiphany comes from the Greek word meaning "appearance ."Christmas is the time that we celebrate and recognize God becoming human in the world. Epiphany is a celebration and reflection of Jesus's appearance into our world.
Epiphany is the story of the magi or the wisemen who travel from far away, following the Christmas star, in search of baby Jesus whom they believe to be God. Scriptures say they found Jesus a couple of years after Jesus was born. Theologians believe Jesus was 2 or 3 years old when the Magi eventually paid him a visit. Epiphany Sunday is typically recognized the Sunday following Christmas day or 2 Sundays after Christmas Day. Churches will read the story of the magi or wisemen visiting baby Jesus and celebrate Jesus' as God.
Epiphany is also an entire church season lasting through Transfiguration Sunday.The scriptures read during epiphany are from people, like the disciples who believe and have faith that Jesus is God. It is a season in the church calendar year, like Advent and Lent.the length of the Epiphany season is anywhere from four to nine Sunday's depending on when Easter falls.
Why is Epiphany important to Christians? Epiphany celebrates the appearance of God as human. This is a time to reflect on our own faith and we, ourselves, fit into the Christian narrative. It is the season where we reflect on how we can be Jesus's light in the world.
Watch today's "What is Epiphany?" video to find out more about this special Sunday, the season of Epiphany, and why it is important to Christians. At the end of the video, I give you the name of a special resource to help kids understand the meaning of Epiphany.
AT HOME: One way to teach your child the importance of Epiphany is through your nativity set. Don't put the wise men immediately with the stable, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Move your wisemen through your house until Epiphany Sunday and then add them to your Nativity scene. You child will love looking for the wisemen through your house (kind of like the ever popular Elf on the Shelf) and will ask questions about what you are doing. This gives you the opportunity to explain what the wisemen/magi were looking for, why, and how long it took them to find and Jesus and give him their gifts.
IN CHURCH: If you serve a church, you can do the above "at home" activity in your church as well. Children will love searching for the wisemen each Sunday. You can talk about where they wisemen are during a children's moment/sermon time, Sunday School, or Children's Church.
If you are a Children's Pastor, you might be interested in the Children's Moment I did during the worship service. It only takes 3 to 4 minutes.
Raise your hand if you have a nativity set at home. Good news! You can bring out the wise men today! Today is Epiphany Sunday when we celebrate the wise men's visit to Jesus. The wise men didn't actually visit Jesus when he was first born.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 2, the bible says that "after Jesus was born...wise men from the east came to Jerusalem" (Mt 2:1). We know that they discovered from chief priests and scribes that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea (Mt. 2:3-6). Matthew then tells us that they picked up the star again and found that it "came to rest over the place where the child was" (Mt 2:9). Verse 11 is the key. We read, "And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother."
Today is the day we remember the wise men bringing their gifts to honor Jesus. Make sure to go home and put your wise men out!
Prayer: Dear God, help us to look for you and the way you help us, just like the wise men searched for Jesus. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
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