Today is Epiphany – The Appearing. Some traditions more accurately call it Theophany – The Appearing of God.
The Word of all creation became flesh, became Immanuel – God with us, and we have seen his glory.
Some mark the feast by focussing on Christ’s baptism, when he was revealed to Israel. Others commemorate the coming of the Magi, the first Gentiles to realize and respond to God’s presence among us.
Two phrases from Matthew’s account of their visit to Bethlehem caught my attention this year:
“They returned to their home country by another route.”
Millions of us have “been to Bethlehem” to one degree or another this Christmas. How, as we now go back to school, go back to work, get back to normal and make our way through yet another year, will the Christ child change us? God would have us go home but wants to use new roads. How?
The other phrase was, “and they opened to him their treasures…”
The Persian princes had particular presents – symbolic gifts only one greater than them could call forth:
- Gold, the royal rock, for their present powers and possessions – all they had going for them.
- Frankincense, the prayer scent, for their future aspirations.
- Myrrh, the death spice, for their ultimate fears.
All births are miracles and babies marvels, but only to the extent the virgin-born Jesus appears to us as God Himself can he change us and put us on new roads.
As he reveals himself to me this year, may I reveal myself to him. May I unwrap and open up and give him all I’m proud of, all I hope for and all I worry about. These are my treasures to lay bare before God – God laid himself bare before us all.