On this Sunday, January 6, Epiphany, we celebrate Jesus Christ as the Light of the world.
Today, Saturday, January 5, is the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Christmas is not one day. It is a season of Twelve Days lasting from the Nativity (Christmas Day) on December 25 through the Twelfth Day on January 5.
Tomorrow, Sunday, January 6, is Epiphany. This word comes from a Greek word, epiphaneia, meaning appearance or appearing. On this day for over 1,500 years, most of the Christian Church has celebrated the coming of the Magi to worship the Christ child. On this day Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus came not only as the redeemer of Israel, but also as the Savior of the World. The revelation of Christ to the Gentile Magi was the first time that the nations saw the Light of Life, who came as the Light of hope and truth for every person ever born.
Even then God’s Spirit was moving among the nations who were not a part of God’s covenant People. In culture, in conscience, and in creation, the Spirit had prepared the Magi to hear the Creator’s call, and seek the Light of the One True God. Having no effective witness from Israel, their searching hearts were answered not with condemnation for being astrologers unfamiliar with the God of Abraham, but with a sign that led them all the way to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. At the adoration of the Magi, Jesus began fulfilling his mission as the Light of the world.
Very early on, the Church also celebrated the wedding of Cana and the baptism of Jesus on this day. Why? Because these were the two great moments at the beginning of Christ’s ministry that began his revelation as Son of God and Savior of the world.
January 6 completes the Cycle of Light that included the Four Sundays of Advent, the twelve day Christmas Season, and Epiphany. During Advent we remembered that both creation and our race needed deliverance from sin, darkness, and death. We prepared our hearts for Christ’s Second Advent, and prepared to properly celebrate his First Advent. During the Christmas Season we celebrated Christ’s birth, focusing on God and his kept promise in Christ, rather than focusing on ourselves.
With Epiphany we are launched into the new year with an emphasis on Christ’s mission to the nations. Every year we recommit ourselves to taking the Light of Life into all the world. We do so knowing, that as Jesus said, the Father is already working in the hearts of individuals and in the cultures of the nations. We too must go there and work.
The waiting of Advent became the worship of Christmas, and now it becomes the witness of Epiphany. On this Sunday, January 6, Epiphany, we celebrate Jesus Christ as the Light of the world.