Two Epiphanies: the Return of the Wise

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An epiphany is the manifestation or unveiling of what is not obvious to the naked eye. Today is Epiphany on the western Church calendar celebrating the epiphany of the Magi (the Wise). One does not expect to find anything of much value in an animal shelter, let alone a child wrapped in cloth whose crib is an animal feeding trough.

Stefano di Giovanni (1392-1450) Journey of the Magi

Returning to Our Own Country by Another Way

If the appearance of the Magi (wisdom figures) bearing expensive gifts to an animal shelter far from the levers of wealth and power calls for special attention, the refusal of these wisdom figures to return to Herod represents the wisdom of the wise of all ages.

Those who are Wise refuse to be informers of a schemer. The Magi do not return to Herod, as Herod has instructed. Instead “they returned to their own country by another way” — and so must we this Day of Epiphany.

Two Epiphanies — Two Unveilings

This Epiphany there will be two epiphanies, two unveilings or manifestations, one the celebration of good news to all, the other the recognition of Herod’s scheming. “And when you have found him (the new-born king), return to me that I too may worship him.”

In the churches of Western Christianity, hymns will be sung to a babe destined to be buried the way he was born — in a borrowed place. Meanwhile, a Herodian crowd with guns drawn will gather at the Capitol In Washington D.C. while a group of Senators and Representatives, whether fearful of Herod or acting on their own ambitions to become him, will continue the schemes that threaten to leave their country in ruins.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Congressman John Lewis’s pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, will take the Wisdom of his predecessor, at Ebenezer, Martin Luther King, Jr., to the U.S. Senate floor.

Hope for light on Epiphany

Today is the Day of the Epiphany when western Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (the “Wise”) at the manger in Bethlehem.

In this dark time of anxiety we look again for the light of an epiphany – a new awakening, a dawning of the light through the shadows – that will help us to circumvent Herod’s cruel way.

Sometimes light comes from the blind, as it did from Fanny Crosby (1890-1920), a poet and hymn writer who lost her sight when she was six-weeks old. Ms. Crosby was educated at the New York Institution for the Blind. She went on to teach English grammar, rhetoric, and American history. She never learned to tweet, but she left us more than one worthy thought that seems apt for this Day of Epiphany when a meeting is taking place on gold-plated chairs in a New York City penthouse.

Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
Wealth that can never be told;
Riches exhaustless or mercy and grace,
Precious, more precious than gold!

May God grant to our blindness the wealth that can never be told – the wisdom and light seen by Fanny Crosby.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 6, 2017

The Manifestation of Christ: Epiphany

Ever wondered what an authentic disciple of Jesus might look like in 2016 following a year of deadly gun violence? Today is Epiphany when Christians celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles, remembering the Wise Men who presented their gifts to the Prince of Peace.

President Obama, Jan. 5, 2016

President Obama, Jan. 5, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Psalter Reading for Epiphany: Psalm 72:1,2,7-14 (NRSV)

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

 

In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 6, 2016, The Day of the Epiphany on the Western Christian liturgical calendar.