My beloved spoke and said to me: “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”
Today continues the season of what’s known in the liturgical calendar as Christmastide (this is the “second day of Christmas”). This short period moves us on through the new year and to Epiphany on January 6. Epiphany essentially means “manifestation.” When the ineffable is made tangible, we call that a manifestation. What previously proved elusive is suddenly brought close. We often equate an epiphany with a sudden flash of insight, but that understanding misses the tangible nature of a genuine epiphany. We experience an epiphany, not only when we see things from a fresh perspective, but when we physically behold a reality that wasn’t there just a moment ago.
We have just come through the longer season of Advent, which is a season of waiting and anticipation. With the physical birth of Jesus, we transition now into a posture of beholding. The wait is over. In the bleakness of winter we look upon the one who is the hope of all nations. The birth of Jesus transforms reality from the inside out. Our long nights of grief are given a sense of meaning. Our losses are not undone, but begin to be seen as instruments of redemption that have hewn away our pride, and created space for compassion. With the arrival of Jesus, none of our circumstances are structurally altered, yet all things are now permeated by a primal light, and the shattered fragments have been brought back together. Jesus may not give us all of the answers, but he meets a deeper need by giving us a way to live in the face of uncertainty.
In this sense, Epiphany is not so much a season as it is a person. Jesus is the Epiphany. He is not the revealer. He is the revelation itself. In the lowliness of his birth, and in the radical submission of his ministry, Jesus makes manifest the character of God. He is the radiant, once-and-for-all reminder of God’s unswerving commitment to his creation, and he gives us hope enough to be holy.
Thank you, Father, for hearing the deepest cry of our heart, and for responding by sending Jesus into our midst.
AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH, AND MADE HIS DWELLING AMONG US.
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