What is an epiphany? The dictionary defines is as “a moment of sudden revelation or insight”. It is also what the church calls the 12th Day of Christmas: Epiphany, or “Three Kings Day” is a reference to when, after having travelled for possibly two years, the wise men finally get to meet and visit Jesus. I have long wondered what was in the sky the night Jesus was born. What got these people motivated to pack up and begin a journey with an unclear destination? Something had been revealed to them. Whatever was in the sky moved their mind and heart to go.
There is little historical information about these wise men and their journey. In the gospel of Matthew it says they came from the East, leading many to believe they started in Persia. Matthew doesn’t explicitly say there were three of them, and it wasn’t until the seventh century that we began to call them by name. It has been argued that the star could have been either a regular star, a comet, or even a grouping of planets. This lack of specific information is, to me, a reminder that this story is not exclusively the wise men’s journey. We are on an epiphany journey ourselves.
I don’t know what the star looked like that prompted the wise men to move. Did they have any idea how long the trip across the desert would take? I have been thinking about those times when my heart and mind have been illuminated by a foreign light, especially during a dark night of the soul. Though the future remained unclear, I suddenly had a sense of what needed to happen next. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. An epiphany can call us to courageously move into unchartered territory, a place where we see the face of God in a new way.
The wise men were beckoned to follow the star in order to come face-to-face with the child who would be the answer to their hope. Their lives, and now our lives have become entwined in the big-picture story, the story where the creator actually calls out to us by name and invites us to come, the story where divinity is revealed in humanity under seemingly very ordinary circumstances.
At The Dale last Sunday we talked about moments where God is revealed: holding a new-born baby; witnessing a beautiful sunset; saying “I love you” to a friend and really meaning it; being present when someone dies and trusting that death is not really the end; joining a community where you are accepted; believing that our lives are covered in grace. We can witness God in these ordinary, yet extraordinary places and suddenly find ourselves on a journey we never expected. Though the road might be long, it does promise to change our lives.