Do you celebrate Epiphany? Here is a new way to celebrate Epiphany.
The twelve days of Christmas are not just a popular Christmas song but the time period between Christmas and Epiphany.
But if you’re like many Christians, you may not know about the January 6th holiday, or maybe consider it an old tradition of years gone by.*
Not so fast.
One of the blessings of serving believers around the world is learning their Christian holidays.
Across Europe, in parts of Africa and Australia, and most of Latin America, millions of Christians celebrate Epiphany marking the arrival of the wise men who followed the star to visit baby Jesus. (Many also honor the baptism of Jesus on this holiday.)
The name “Epiphany” is derived from the Koine Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epipháneia (used in 2 Timothy 1:10) meaning “appearance.”
“But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” 2 Timothy 1:10, NIV (emphasis added).
From parades of wise men riding camels through Spain’s streets to Christmas gifts given in Latin American countries, the day is celebrated uniquely around the world. Special church services are held and, in some traditions, a sermon series on the miracles of Jesus begins.
Why do we celebrate Epiphany? How can we learn from Epiphany?
Let’s start where the Bible begins with the host of angels announcing Jesus’s arrival, His appearance, to shepherds in the fields. The shepherds were baby Jesus’s first visitors—the poorest of the poor (Luke 2).
This supernatural appearance of angelic creatures is orchestrated simultaneously with a supercelestial event in the sky. The Bethlehem star signaled the Messiah’s arrival to the wise men—the wisest of the wise (Matt. 2).
Yes, the supernatural and the natural came together to declare the arrival of Immanuel, “God with us.” Poor or rich, educated or uneducated, Jesus “appeared” for everyone.
No matter what you’ve done, Jesus came for you. No matter what has been done to you, Jesus can heal you.
Yes, Epiphany can be your day for Jesus to make a permanent “appearance” in your life. Just as the shepherds and wise men sought Him and found Him, you are invited to draw near to Him. He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Maybe you have friends or family who are far from God. Make a list and pray for opportunities to share Jesus’s appearance in your life, and how He came for all. (Use our resources to learn how—click here).
Let's Bring Jesus Gifts
Epiphany remembers the wise men’s gifts for Jesus of gold (symbolizing Jesus as the King of all kings), frankincense (representing Jesus as the Priest of all priests), and myrrh (symbolizing Jesus’s sacrifice of His life for all).
These gifts may have been symbolic, as some believe, or might have been precisely what Mary and Joseph needed before they fled to Egypt (Matt. 2). (Another demonstration of God providing for our needs.) Either way, Epiphany is a time to consider what we are giving to Jesus.
In our home, we celebrate Epiphany by displaying little wooden boxes with small samples of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We each write letters to Jesus, expressing what we are giving Him in our lives or for the upcoming year. Letters look like prayers . . . “Jesus, I give you my time. You are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End; I give you my days in 2021.”
When my sons were young, they would write letters thanking Jesus for what He did in the prior year. We have a collection of letters, marked with crayons and decorated with stickers.
Each Epiphany, we retrieve the prior year’s letters and read them to celebrate what happened over the last 12 months. It’s a tremendous spiritual discipline of remembering. Then, we write letters for the next year.
What will you give Jesus?
The greatest gift we can give Jesus is not elaborate or wrapped in a package. Remember, the shepherds came with nothing to give Jesus but themselves.
That’s exactly what Jesus wants—for you give Him yourself—to trust Him, abide in Him. For you and Jesus together to take one day at a time this new year.
If you’ve never made the decision to turn from your way of life without Jesus and to turn to Jesus, learn how here. Epiphany can forever be remembered as Jesus’s appearance in your life—the greatest life-changing, eternity-shaping decision you can make.
For now, I pray that as we go through Epiphany, we reflect on the Greatest Gift the world has ever received—Jesus.