On the Twelfth Day of Christmas
10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11 (NRSV)
January 6, the 12th day of Christmas, is Epiphany. Epiphany is often overlooked in our culture. We tend to start celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving and conclude the day after Christmas. In many cultures, the twelve days of Christmas go from December 25 – January 6. Epiphany comes from the Greek word, epiphaneia, which means manifestation. Epiphany is the “manifestation of God.”
The scripture for Epiphany is Matthew 2:1-12 where the wise men come searching for the Christ child. The wise men were Gentiles. Early in Matthew, God reveals that the Christ child, the promised Messiah, was not only for the Jews, but for the world. God manifested God’s only begotten son to the world. For God so loved the world… (John 3:16).
It is interesting to realize that when the wise men arrived, Jesus was almost two years old. What an image. The wise men bow down and offer gifts to the toddler, Jesus. We know the age of Jesus because Herod asked exactly what time they saw the star (Matthew 2:7).
When Herod realized that the wise men were not coming back to tell him where this child was, he killed all the children in and around Bethlehem under two years old based on the time he had learned from them (Matthew 2:16).
The wise men offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Some suggest that through these gifts we learn that the child is God’s anointed king (gold), God’s appointed priest (frankincense), and for the one who would die for the world (myrrh – often used to anoint the body of the deceased).
Epiphany is God’s reminder that this gift of the promised Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, the Lord, is God’s gift to all of us. We leave our tree and lights up through January 6, the 12 days of Christmas. It seems a little counter-cultural, but our faith is counter-cultural. Epiphany is God’s reminder that the gift of the Christ-child is also a gift for me, and for you.
Love in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Terry L. Moore,