Word for Wednesday…Epiphany
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.Matthew 12:21, NRSV
Late yesterday afternoon I made a conscious decision to listen to Christmas music. I was preparing to go on a short run. I put in my headphones, opened up the Pandora app on my phone, and realized it was still on the “Rend Collective Holiday” channel. I was about to change it to something like NF, when I remembered it was still Christmas, at least according to the Church Calendar, since the Christmas celebration is not over until we observe the Feast of Epiphany on January 6. I thought to myself, “Why not celebrate as long as you can, especially with all that’s going on right now.” Then I was reminded the very next day, today, I could even kick the festivities up a notch, since for those of us who are Gentiles, the party is only just getting started. When we hear the word “epiphany,” the first thing that usually comes to mind is a moment of sudden realization, often referred to as a “eureka moment.” But it can also mean “appearance” or “manifestation.” The Feast of Epiphany is the celebration of God’s appearing or making himself known to the wise men, who would have been perceived as the epitome of Gentile sinners, for their participation in things like sorcery, fortune-telling, and astrology. Matthew’s mostly Jewish audience would have been shocked to learn of God graciously revealing himself to them, and insulted by the appropriateness of their response, since so many of them failed to recognize the truth of who Jesus was, but Matthew wanted them to understand that God’s gift of salvation was for Gentiles too. Since we too are Gentiles, we also rejoice in this truth. In his sermon two weeks ago, our associate pastor, Pastor Phil, referred to God’s offer of salvation to us as an “unexpected gift.” While it is that, it is also a gift that is “undeserved,” made possible only through God’s gracious gift of his Son. Paul’s reminder to the Gentiles in Ephesus is something we should also take to heart, “Remember, that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13, NRSV). Today, we celebrate the hope we have on account of God’s gift to us in Jesus. And this is a celebration that will last forever.