By the Waters of Babylon – Ps 137:1
Today is January 6th – the traditional Feast of the Epiphany. The Church in the Orthodox world celebrates this day in a Christmas fashion – family gatherings, presents, telling of stories, feast-food. For the rest of us, Epiphany marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas.
Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “appearing”. At the Feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate Jesus being made manifest or shown to the world as the Christ. Traditionally, there are three manifestations celebrated on this feast day.
On this day, in the long tradition of the western church, Jesus is revealed as Christ to the three Wise Men, or magi, from the East. They traditionally followed the Star of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth.
The second manifestation is the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. This second appearing is so important that the Church has moved the story to stand alone on the First Sunday after Epiphany! Although this was a part of the original Epiphany celebrations, by the fourth century, western churches had largely stopped observing the baptism in the Epiphany celebrations. In the end of the last century, Christian churches restored this important event in Jesus’ life and restored it to the Epiphany season.
The third manifestation of Jesus as Christ that is traditionally celebrated on this day is the miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is Christ’s first reported miracle.
We celebrate these events in the life of Jesus and pray that we can participate fully by showing the light of Christ to all whom we meet.