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A Look at the Season of Epiphany by Pastor Schambach

posted Jan 25, 2015, 5:33 PM by Nate Balcom
The Christmas decorations that adorned our sanctuary have made their sudden departure. Even the stained glass window above the altar has disappeared. Regarding the decorations, we build them farewell until next Advent. Regarding the stained glass window, it is the final step in our church's project to repair and restore all of the stained glass windows. It will reappear sometime in late March. Like the winter landscape, our sanctuary has taken on a barren look, but not as barren as we might think. It is the season of Epiphany, and Epiphany invites us to look deeper and see that which at first glance was hidden from us.

Epiphany means a sudden or surprising revelation of God that we had not expected. Examples of epiphanies are both profound and mundane. For profound, Wise Men fall to their knees to worship a king who was born in the feed trough. As for mundane, a woman once told me that she had successfully become deaf to God's voice and her life until that day in January when she was vacuuming the living room floor and God spoke to her with such grace that she simply needed to worship again. Both experiences are epiphanies. 

So Epiphany is the season in the church year when we watch and listen for the ways God chooses to reveal himself to us. The scriptures we will hear from the life of Christ during the season will help us see ways in which God moves among us in our everyday life. In the northern hemisphere, winter is a good time for Epiphany since the polar landscape is perfect for solitude and deeper reflection.

With that in mind, here are a few notes on this liturgical season. We divide the church year into Festival Time and Ordinary Time. Festival Time refers to the Sundays and festivals that compromise the Advent-Christmas and the Lent-Easter. Ordinary Time refers to all of the other Sundays and Festivals. That we call it "Ordinary Time" is probably not the best term, since there is nothing ordinary about God's time in our lives. Be that as it may, the season of Epiphany is the first and shortest season of Ordinary Time, beginning on January 12, and ending on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, when the season of Lent begins.

The Season of Epiphany is marked by two special Sunday festivals that are like bookends on the season. The Baptism of Our Lord, which is today (January 12), begins the season. The other bookend is the Transfiguration of our Lord (February 15), which brings the season to a close. Because of their special festival nature, the liturgical color the sanctuary is white on these days. Otherwise, the liturgical color is green during the season of Epiphany.

May this winter season of Epiphany open your eye of faith so that you might experience an epiphany of God. Perhaps it will be a mountain-top experience like the Transfiguration of Our Lord, or perhaps will be the whisper of God's voice while vacuuming.