Happy Theophany/Epiphany!

The Baptism of Christ (Menologion of Basil II, 10th-11th c.)
The Baptism of Christ (Menologion of Basil II, 10th-11th c.)

The 12 Days of Christmas are over and a new season of liturgy has begun. To mark this shift, Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters celebrate the feast of Theophany in remembrance of when Jesus as baptized by John the Forerunner.

The name Theophany means the “appearance of God” as it was at that baptism that the Trinity appeared clearly to humanity for the first time. God the Father spoke from the heavens while the incarnated God the Son physical stood in the Jordan river with the God the Spirit descending upon him.

Adoration of the Magi by El Greco, 1568
Adoration of the Magi by El Greco, 1568

Among our Roman Catholic and liturgical Protestant family, today is celebration of Epiphany. That is, the day when the magi visited Jesus in Bethlehem, most likely when he was one years of age.

The feast’s name, epiphany, means “manifestation” or “revelation” as the magi represented all the non-Jewish people of the world (i.e. the Gentiles) who received the revelation that God had taken on the likeness of humanity to rescue us from darkness.

Both feasts have been celebrated by Jesus followers since the fourth century, if not earlier. So, if you are able, lift up a cup and shout:

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Revelation 19:6b-8a)

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