Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blessed Epiphany

Epiphany is rarely celebrated in the evangelical church, so when I first started following the Church Year, this HolyDay was almost completely foreign to me. And, in a way, it still seems a little foreign, a little Eastern.

Three magi -- whether kings, wise men, astrologers we do not know -- came from the East. Gentiles, not Jews, came to worship the newborn King of the Jews.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” -- Matthew 2:1-2, English Standard Version (ESV) 
Seeking to worship, their arrival engendered the jealousy of the political king who ordered the wholesale murder of all male children two years of age and under in Bethlehem:

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” -- Matthew 2:18, ESV
The well-known carol best tells the story:

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and Sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

The Collect for Epiphany (1928 BCP):
O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Epiphany, Christ is revealed not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles as the Magi come to worship Him ... He Who came down as "King and God and Sacrifice." In response--and gratitude--we can only join with the angels in singing, "Alleluia, Alleluia."

As we worship God on High.

Wishing you a blessed Epiphanytide,

holy experience

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