Tomorrow evening we will celebrate the Eve of Epiphany and the celebration of the arrival of the magi. We have watched and waited through Advent, we have celebrated Christmas and the joy of our Saviour’s birth and now we are being asked to follow, to recognize the revelation of Christ in our midst and journey into the new life he offers us. As I commented last year – this is the season when we are encouraged to come and see, come and follow, go and tell others.
Because Tom & I did not grow up in a liturgical tradition, we assemble our creche before Christmas with the Magi already there. But traditionally, our turbaned wise men with their camels should move slowly around our house towards the manger, only arriving on January 5th – the Eve of Epiphany.
This is an incredible season that many of us ignore, unaware of its significance. The Magi were star watchers and they knew that the rising of God’s morning star heralded an event of cosmic proportions. They left everything behind to follow the star.
I wonder at their improbably presence in the Christmas story, at their capacity to recognize the divine lying in the gloom of poverty.
But where are the Jewish sages to join them around my tiny creche? Where are the religious leaders who longed for the Messiah? They were invited. The star led the magi to Jerusalem. News of Israel’s Saviour reached the holy land on the lips of foreigners. The priests were able to name the place of the Messiah’s birth from prophecy and pointed the pagans in the right direction. But why – why – did none follow? (From Invitation to Epiphany: tabitha Plueddemann Mosaic Bible)
Every Christmas we meet with Christ in a new way, a way that should mean death to our old selves and new birth into the eternal life of God. Epiphany is an invitation to follow the Christ that we have encountered in new ways over the Christmas season and beginning a new journey.
For the magi their journey towards the Christmas star was life changing. They could no longer go back to their old gods. They could no longer walk the old paths or be satisfied with the old life. They had met the Messiah and recognized him as light to the world not just as God’s glory revealed to Israel. They had seen him as God’s redeemer to foreigners as well as to the Jews. And as a result they did not go back to the religious leaders of jerusalem after their revelation – they went home by a different way.
How has our journey towards Christ and the light of his presence changed us this Christmas season? What new journeys are we embarking in that show we have been touched by God’s light? How can we better follow him into a new journey that leads us and others towards God’s eternal light?