Sunday, January 6, 2013

Surprised by Epiphany!

Epiphany took me somewhat by surprise when I went to church this morning.  The reason is that we were singing songs and praying prayers about the wise men following the star to see Jesus, and Christmas was over.  I wondered why were we still talking about the wise men, when we had already celebrated the story about Jesus' birth.

Technically-speaking, I should have known about Epiphany this morning.  As I did searches on my blog, I saw that I attended Epiphany services when I went to Latin mass in Cincinnati (see here), and also last year at my present church (see here).  But sometimes things don't stick with me!  I didn't grow up with the Christian liturgical calendar, for my family observed the Old Testament festivals rather than Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, etc.  The Christian calendar is not inside of me.  Now, however, I know more about Epiphany.

Why celebrate the wise men after Christmas, though?  My pastor in his sermon this morning was saying that Epiphany allows us to go deeper into the birth of Jesus.  I thought to myself, however, that it may have been because the wise men saw Jesus after Jesus' nativity (and, here, I'm bringing together Luke and Matthew, which is widely considered a no-no in scholarly circles, but I'm just doing so in an attempt to see where the Christian calendar is coming from).  The nativity scenes that we see that include shepherds, wise men, cows, sheep, etc., are not entirely true to the Bible, for the wise men were not at the stable when Jesus was a baby.  Rather, in Matthew's telling, they came to a house (Matthew 2:11).  Jesus may even have been two years old when the wise men encountered him, depending on how you take Matthew 2:16.  So Jesus was born.  Then, later, the wise men visited him.

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