Sunday, January 4: Epiphany of the Lord Sunday
Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the LORD's glory has shone upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the LORD will shine upon you; God's glory will appear over you.
Nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning radiance.
Read Isaiah 60:1-6
It’s hard to imagine what the trip was like for the magi. We don’t actually know where they came from, or what they expected to find when they got to where the star led them. It’s also difficult to imagine what Mary and Joseph and Jesus thought of the magi’s visit. Surely, we’d think, they had an understanding of the situation (Mary and Joseph, at least—maybe not Jesus, depending on how old he was at the time). Scripture doesn’t tell us a whole lot about what we call “Epiphany,” when some strange men showed up in Jerusalem and were sent by Herod to find the child king. People have wondered for centuries what, exactly, that star was, that the magi claimed to have followed. There’s as much mystery about the story as there is known truth—over time, folks named the wise men, after deciding there must have been only three of them, though the scripture doesn’t tell us that much information. Legends about where they came from have helped us feel as though we have a grasp on what it means that some wealthy foreigners would make a perilous journey to visit this child, born to a poor carpenter.
Though there is much mystery about the Epiphany, when we think on what Isaiah prophesied, that God’s light would shine on all the people, perhaps the questions we have about the whole story dim in comparison to the knowledge that this one, this unassuming child, this simple son of a carpenter, is the light that Isaiah foretold. He is the light people have been looking for in darkness—not just the people of Israel, but people of all nations who have sat in darkness. Thank God the light has shined...in all its mystery—into all the dark places! Thank God that we are called to shine that light, too!
Prayer: Jesus, Light of the World, shine upon us. Let your light shine through us, as it shone to bring mysterious strangers to visit you so long ago. Amen.