On January 6th the Christian Church celebrates the Festival of the Epiphany - the time when Wise Men or Magi from the lands to the east of Judea followed a star, and finding the Christ Child in Bethlehem presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The story of the three Wise Men is a familiar one, but what does it signify for Christians? The word Epiphany is defined as an intuitive perception or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something. In the Festival of the Epiphany we remember the moment when the reality of whom Jesus really was dawned upon the first followers of Jesus.
The first Christians came to understand Jesus as the creator God who came to earth in human form - not as someone who came to rule as an earthly King, but as a servant to die for them on the Cross. They came to understand Jesus as God coming on earth to dispel the darkness of sin and to shed light on the Christian journey, to bring humanity forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. They came to understand that Jesus was the greatest gift humanity could have; that he is the visible expression of God’s love for humanity.
How do we as Christians in the 21st Century respond to the gift of Jesus to us? Epiphany can mean the moment when we reflect on the way in which we can give practical expression to the love that Jesus represents. As we reflect on the state of our world and its need for peace and justice, we may well come to understand the need for an epiphany in the way we treat one another.