January 6, 2017

An Epiphany Message from the Dean

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
–Helen Keller

Epiphany derives from the Greek word meaning manifestation, and refers to how Christ becomes known to the Gentiles as Magi, or Wise Men, make their visit to the Stable as recorded in Matthew 2:1–12. The festival commemorating that visit is always on January 6 and concludes the twelve days of Christmas. But the Church also begins the season of Epiphany with that feast day, studying the meaning of the various revelations and signs – beginning with the baptism of Jesus and the startup of His public ministry.

The three wise men became known as the three kings, however the scriptures do not call them kings but magus, from the Greek name given by the Babylonians, Medes and Persians to wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers and sorcerers. Matthew tells us that the Magi followed a star, which suggest that they were astrologers and not royalty. They are described as kings in later Christian writings, possibly referring to Psalm 72:11, “May all kings fall down before him.”

They showed up and fell on their knees. That act of faith and worship became a sign across generations that God was up to something marvelous in what they discovered in that stable. And in their commitment and homage, the Magi became a symbol to the wide reach by which this Incarnation would change how we see and act in the world.

These Magi represent the diversity of humankind. They demonstrate the capacity that can grow in each of us to embrace the signs and new things that God will reveal to us. The Christmas story reminds us that Christ came among but was not recognized by His own people. At the same time, Creation rose up in praise to celebrate the mighty act of God in Emmanuel – God with us in Christ.

The Magi returned home. Maybe that is the hardest part of our transformation by any sign – not only showing up with eyes wide open to what God is up to but, equally importantly, being transformed by the encounter. Blind Helen Keller lived this truth, with a heart open beyond the capacity to see or touch.

Blessings to you from this Cathedral as the One who wants to be known reveals that love and hope to you, and as you are changed by owning and sharing it, in this season of manifestations and always.