Thursday, January 12, 2012
Epiphany: God Reveals Himself in Light
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and think darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
“Epiphany” means “a showing” or “a revealing.” For nearly 2000 years Christians have observed Epiphany as the celebration of God’s showing himself—revealing his salvation—to the nations. Jesus’ coming to earth is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that God would reveal his glory, not only to Israel, but to all the nations. People from all the earth would stream to the brightness of his light.
In particular Epiphany is the commemoration of Jesus’ being revealed to the Magi from East. They were not part of Israel but rather were astrologers, probably from Persia. Yet, in his great love, God took initiative to show his salvation to them by revealing himself in the night sky. As they followed the star, they came to the place where Jesus was, having the honor of being some of the first to worship the Christ.
Recently I heard a sermon on Epiphany that asked two very good questions:
How Has God Revealed Himself to You this Past Year?
In what ways did the Lord reveal himself to you over the past year? Perhaps he miraculously provided for your needs. Maybe he showed you his mercy and forgiveness in a very tangible way. Perhaps he revealed his love through the helping hands of someone who reached out to you. Or, possibly he gave you a sober warning or needed direction for your life.
Take some time to look over this past year to recognize the fingerprints of God, as it were, in your life. The Lord often works in subtle ways that we do not fully recognize until we take the time to look back. You may want to briefly journal what you notice, to remind yourself of God’s love during difficult days ahead. Be sure to express thanks to the Lord for his initiative in your life.
How Can You Be Attentive to God Revealing Himself This Year?
The Lord will be revealing himself to us in big and small ways in the weeks and months ahead. He does so in many ways. He speaks to us as we meditate on Scripture. He shows his glory and power in nature. God often directs us as we listen to him in stillness.
But God reveals himself in other unexpected ways. Just as he revealed himself to the Magi through signs in the heavens—and to Moses in the burning bush—he shows himself to us when and how we least expect it. His epiphany might come via the encouragement of a friend. It could surprise us—albeit painfully—through a not-so-nice word of correction. It could be wrapped in the lyrics of a song. The Lord might display his glory in a winter sunrise.
However God chooses to reveal himself in our lives this year, how can we remain open? How can we remain attentive, so we don’t miss it? How can we stay receptive, in order not to overlook it when it comes in an unexpected way?
God’s light comes—it breaks in to our lives in many unanticipated ways! That is Epiphany! That is what we as believers celebrate at the end of the Christmas season. Let us be ready, open and attentive as we walk into all that the Lord has in store for us this New Year.
© 2012 Glenn E. Myers