4th January 2023

Many of us were introduced to Epiphany through the familiar image of Three Wise Men bearing gifts as they followed the Star by night. In some cultures, Epiphany is known as the Day of the Kings or Twelfth Night, reflecting a custom of giving gifts.

The word epiphany means appearance or manifestation. It is likened to words such as eureka or aha! It conjures up images of having a light bulb turned on, or of being able to see something that was once hidden from view. Epiphany starts with the Magi who were outside of Judaism. We often forget that these Magi or wise men were non-Jews.

What can we learn from them? First, the Wise Men began their journey because of their beliefs. It was a common belief that when a world leader like a king was born that a special stellar phenomenon would appear in the sky. The Magi saw something that convinced them that they had seen the long-awaited sign. Historians tell us that the Jews, Romans, and Persians were all watching the skies about that time, looking for signs of the birth of an extraordinary king.

Second, the Wise Men were willing to follow what they had seen into unknown territory. Their journey took them outside their country and their comfort zone. They risked the consequences of disobeying Herod, who was known to behave as a madman when provoked and returned to their country by another way. The Christian journey is often an off-road excursion.

Third, the Wise Men were committed to the journey – wherever the star might lead. The Wise Men set out to find a new-born King by following a star and ended up in finding a baby born to relatively poor parents! Not exactly what they expected.

In this coming year, may we look to God for guidance and comfort, and may we accept God’s blessings in whatever form we find them, just as the Wise Men accepted that their long, expensive journey led them to a baby born to young, inexperienced parents who lived on the poor side of town.

Finally, the Wise Men brought gifts. Their greatest gift comes to us in the form of a realisation. The Wise Men were the first Gentiles to recognize that Jesus belongs to everyone. Good news is for everyone, not just a select few.

Sam King