On Friday, the Anglican Church, along with other liturgical churches, celebrated Epiphany.
The Epiphany, January 6th, marks the close of the Christmas Season with Twelfth Night (the Twelfth Day of Christmas) on January 5th. Epiphany, then, is a kind of extension of the Christmas season as we remember the events of Matthew 2 in which "wise men from the east" come to Judea, looking for the "infant King of the Jews." Herod asks his advisers about the Messiah, and they tell him that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem:
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.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
--Matthew 2:1-12, ESV
The Baptism of Jesus is celebrated a week later, on the Octave (8th day) of Epiphanytide, the day in which Christ was manifested as the Son of God, as related in Matthew 3:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest upon him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
--Matthew 3:13-17, ESV
Our Collect for Epiphanytide from the Book of Common Prayer 2011, to be prayed throughout the Octave of the Epiphany:
O GOD, by the leading of a star you revealed your only eternal Son to the peoples of the earth; In your mercy grant that we, who know you now by faith, may after this life behold your glory and power face to face; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And the Collect for the First Sunday After the Epiphany, also from the Book of Common Prayer 2011:
LORD God, in your mercy we ask you to receive the prayers of your people who call upon you; Grant that we may perceive and know what things we ought to do, and give us the grace and the power to faithfully perform them; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Over two years ago, I jotted a quotation into my Quotation Journal, a quote by a fellow blogger and pilgrim on the pathway to God, that I've always wanted to share on Epiphany, but it kept slipping my mind (an easy thing to do these days). So here it is for you and for me to ponder:
"Keeping the pace while finding wise silences, discernment is knowing where the bright star leads--and then maintaining the trail. But like the Magi, the idea is not to dare to encamp under the compass point, but to be lit further by the Source."
--from "The Speculator" on his blog La Vie Graphite, 9 December 2009
So as we enter Epiphanytide, the time in which Jesus was made manifest not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles--basically, the fact that He came to save everyone, no matter what sex, race, religion, creed--we welcome Him into our hearts with joy and gratitude, "for this is the day which the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."
Rejoicing with you this day,