Here is my article published in the February 16, 2017 Camrose Canadian Clergy Comment column.
We human beings mark the passing of time and seasons with calendars. In the life of Christians, some churches follow a liturgical calendar year. In Western Christendom, we are now well into the season of Epiphany. Epiphany often spans anywhere from six to nine weeks, depending on the date of Easter, which is a moveable festival.
The word Epiphany comes from the Greek and means, “to show, to reveal, to make manifest.” Four of the classic, Epiphany New Testament texts that highlight the showing, revealing, and making Jesus manifest are: the magi visitation (Matthew 2:1-12); Jesus’ Baptism (Mark 1:9-11); the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11); and the Transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:28-36).
The magi, who were Gentiles, underscore God calling and extending his grace to all nations. Jesus’ Baptism and Transfiguration emphasize his divinity, and the description of the Transfigured Jesus is similar to the Resurrected Jesus. The turning of water into wine at Cana symbolizes the Church’s two sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. The sign at Cana reminds us that Jesus comes to bring us joy and the abundant life.
Another Epiphany theme is light. Jesus, speaking of himself said: “I am the light of the world.” In John’s Gospel, Jesus is: “The true light, which enlightens everyone.”
Light shows, reveals, makes manifest what the darkness distorts or hides. This is true in many areas of life.
For example, it is interesting that the symbol of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization, Amnesty International, is a lit candle, which is surrounded by barbed wire. The barbed wire is symbolic of injustice and evil forces. In a lot of cases, the injustice and evil is related to tyrannical nations, which arrest, imprison and torture innocent citizens—usually based on false, trumped-up charges and lies. The candle’s flame is symbolic of hope and truth as forces within each person who speaks out; serving as an advocate, by writing letters and contacting the powers-that-be—by defending human rights around the world.
In this way, we as Christians can be a light in the darkness of the world. Our letters of encouragement to prisoners and letters of appeal to leaders can and do make a difference. Many innocent people have been freed from prison and were given a new hope-filled beginning in life because of the letters and appeals of others letting their lights shine.
So, the season of Epiphany is a reminder that, in the words of the Gospel of John: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)