Calvin Presbyterian Church
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Epiphany

 

 

 

Associated scriptures:

Psalm 72: 1-7; 10-14

Matthew 2: 1-12

 

 
 

Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established. It is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, or the Feast of Epiphany. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth”. It is also called Theophany (“manifestation of God”), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany also refers to the church season that follows the day.

It commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity, according to Christian belief, was manifested: when the three kings visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasize the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism.

Various paintings, artworks and sketches show the three wise men and Jesus. Some paintings artworks show the three wise men on the way to Bethlehem or adoring baby Jesus. The kings are important because their visit illustrates that Jesus was the king of all kings who came for the Jews and the Gentiles.

The star that guides the wise men to Christ also symbolizes Epiphany, as well as the three gifts they gave to Jesus: gold (fit for a king); frankincense (used to worship at a temple); and myrrh (used for embalming, as well as a salve for irritations such as diaper rash). Other paintings depict the story of Jesus’ baptism. Many Orthodox churches consider Jesus’ baptism to be the first step towards the crucifixion. The liturgical color for the Epiphany season is white.

 

Epiphany in the United States

Epiphany, commonly known as Three Kings’ Day in the United States, is on January 6. It celebrates the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus and also remembers his baptism, according to the Christian Bible’s events.