Western churches recognise Epiphany on January 6th.
[The Orthodox church celebrates Epiphany on January 19th. Epiphany is one of three major Orthodox Christian celebrations along with Christmas and Easter]
Epiphany is the church season in which God’s light is revealed in the world, when glory is made manifest. The spiritual flow of these winter seasons are awaiting light in the darkness (Advent); Light overcoming darkness (Christmas); and following the light to its glorious source (Epiphany). The story moves from flickering candle light, to the Light of the Cradle, to seekers welcomed into the widening circle of light.
Diana Butler Bass reflected on Epiphany in her most recent blog on The Cottage. She writes:
On Epiphany morning there was a newsletter from the poet David Whyte. The title seemed seasonal — “A Star for Navigation.” I expected a post, maybe a poem, on the biblical story of the Wise Men. I eagerly clicked the link. But my theological geek self was disappointed. The post was about finding one’s true work and vocation:
Every work begins as an intimation and discovery. Like the first time as a child we walk to the edge of a field, glimpse a new horizon, and immediately want to go there. We do not know where the horizon will take us. We have a glimmering, an inclination, a notion that somehow we will find something beyond our present knowledge. . . Each of us, somewhere in the biography of our childhood, remembers a moment where we felt a portion of the world calling and beckoning to us.
I appreciated his short essay, especially his rendering of calling as a horizon. I get it. I like horizons as a symbol, image, and actual place. Horizons as transcendence, as guide for the journey, as location for the future, as cosmic mystery.
But I missed those wandering mystical astrologers — until I realized that those ancient Wise Men were doing exactly what the poet described. The Epiphany story is a tale of journeying toward a horizon – a place of radiance and peace – drawn by a star. From the East they came, beckoned by its glimmering glory and the longings of their hearts, until that star stopped and was overhead, most surprisingly, shone upon the Child. Epiphany took them to a new horizon, the unexpected place of their longings and dreams.
I know what he’s talking about, that desire to discover what is just beyond, to reach that which beckons us. There it is! Rising, just over the hills, the light breaks through the dark, over the mists.
Look to the edge, that place where earth and heaven meet. Can you see the glistening beauty?
O star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light.
Epiphany: the light beckons. We do not know where the horizon will take us. But we go. The more we follow, the brighter it shines and the clearer the way.