(This was originally published in January 2020. It is a good reminder as we approach Epiphany Sunday that God is always shining a light on some aspect of our lives that needs illuminating. Where is he shining his light into your darkness? Follow THAT star. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!)
Ever have an epiphany? Like a really, really good one? I recall having an epiphany once about a toxic relationship I was in. For the longest time I had been blinded to the reality of it, following along and taking the negativity toward me as “personality-driven.” Every time something was said that made me wince, I wrote it off to the other person’s stress/having a bad day/quirky humor/maybe I heard it wrong. But I was hearing it right, and when the epiphany finally came that this relationship was causing me harm, I had to begin the painful process of extricating myself from the friendship.
An epiphany happens when we finally see the light. The word harkens back to the time in scripture when people literally saw the light: a star hanging over Bethlehem that lit the way to the manger and thus lit the way to the salvation of the world.
Matthew 2 (New King James Version)
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
The star led them to Jesus, but an epiphany warned them to stay away from Herod. An Epiphany epiphany.
The word epiphany comes from the Greek word meaning appearance or manifestation. We celebrate the day of Epiphany on January 6th as the final day of the twelve days of Christmas. Many people keep their decorations and lights up until this day to commemorate the Light of the World being made manifest on earth.
In all senses of the word, epiphanies are about the breaking of darkness by the sudden intrusion of light-power. That is what happens every time God appears. Yet in the sense that God is always there, perhaps it is more accurate to say that it happens every time we finally are ready to see the light.
The irony of the Epiphany is that the pagan astrologers saw what the religious scholars refused to see. Trapped in their ritual, expectation, scripture memorization, and endless arguments about doctrine, they missed the entire event, while the star-gazers got to see the Messiah.
Take a look around you. What is God trying to show you? Where is he shining a light on something in your life and yelling, “Pay attention to this!”
Epiphanies happen every day. God breaks into darkness every day. God sheds new light on bad situations every day.
Open your eyes, and behold.