Epiphany isn’t a season that gets much attention, sandwiched between Christmas and Easter. In this respect is like the hidden or veiled aspects of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
As a laywoman in a liturgical church, often I still ask, “What is Epiphany?” Epiphany is childhood Sunday School: Gospel stories of Jesus being baptized, healing the blind, the sick, the mute, the lame, teaching in the synagogues “with authority,” rebuking the Pharisees, and feeding the thousands with a few loaves and fishes. Epiphany is Jesus being chased by the crowds, trying to sneak away to the quiet places, telling people “don’t tell anyone what I’ve done for you;” but, they always do.
Epiphany is Jesus telling parables and then explaining them to his slow disciples. Epiphany is Jesus asking, “Who do you say I am?” Epiphany is the light of Christmas, bursting into wildfire. It is the babe in the manger, the Son of God walking among us. It is the transfiguration on the mountaintop that made those Apostles closest to him, those who walked with him every day, fall down and worship Jesus in awe of his glory. In a church which follows a lectionary and seasons of the church year, the earthly life of Jesus is laid out like one of those thorny parables he told. Often, like the disciples we need some explanation. Hearing the same stories year-after-year, eventually, we put Jesus’ life together. There is good in the repetition of the church year. The familiar doesn’t become old. It becomes home.
As a wife and mother, I haven’t been intentional about celebrating the season of Epiphany in our home. Even when I’m doing my best to walk with Jesus, I need the blazing light of the transfigured Christ during the Epiphany season to shine on me and leave me speechless for a time. My young school-aged children have heard about the wise men visiting the baby Jesus; they know the story well. We talk about Jesus and his miracles and life as often as a teaching moment presents itself.
My goal is to live a life truly transformed by Christ, so I see more of these teaching moments. I want to see more of the connections between the life of Jesus and immediate circumstances in my life as wife and mother. Some days it seems I am slow to learn these connections. Perhaps, that is how God planned it, learning about Christ is a year-after-year process, a life-long process.
Our personal “epiphanies” of what God is doing in our lives often come after a struggle, thinking he wasn’t there, and finally understanding that he was with us the whole time. In our weakness and infirmities, we seek Jesus as many in the crowds did—to just touch him so he will touch us. We want Jesus to take pity on us, to turn toward us rather than away from us, to feed us, and to teach us. The great news is that Jesus wants to feed us, teach us, and take pity on us. Jesus never turns from us.
*Written by Kathy Miller, St. John Lutheran Church, Roanoke, Virginia.