Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Epiphany 2018

Isaiah 60:1-6

1Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. 3Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses' arms.

5Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

epiphany, epiphanies, darkness, light, stars star words

Let's start by looking at the word epiphany:

epi – upon

episode / epistle / epiclesis / epistle / epistemology / epigraph / epigram / epiphany

phan / fan – appearance, revelation, showing, manifestation, etc.

tiffany / theophany / fantasy / fancy / epiphany / phantom / phenomenon

I mentioned a fan that gives us a breeze isn't from the same root. Steve asked about fanatic, and I promised to check it out—but I'm posting this blog before researching fanatic.

The early church numbered Sundays according to Epiphany, Easter, and the Day of Pentecost. Epiphany was a huge deal!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany that emphasizes Jesus as savior to all nations, a light to all the world. Technically Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, but that was yesterday, so we're having thirteenth night rather than twelfth night. Epiphany is Three Kings Day, when we remember magi (astrologers, wise guys, stargazers) visiting Jesus from an country east of Judea. Scripture doesn't tell us how many there were, but they brought three gifts, so tradition again sings about and talks about three kings. Their religion probably was Zoroastrianism. Today's passages from 3rd Isaiah and from Matthew both emphasize east, dawn, rising, light. As you know, it takes only a tiny amount of light to begin transforming darkness; only a small candle or flashlight literally to light our way, at least to the next step or two we need to take. I mentioned the city of Tucson is an official International Dark Sky Place that forbids businesses and buildings to emit more than a limited amount of artificial illumination—a formally protected nightscape. Being able to see that many stars within the city limits is astonishing! Pastor Peg mentioned a stargazing area outside Holden Village that's famous for blankets of stars covering the sky.

Immediately after God speaks through a dream to the rulers from the east, Matthew's gospel brings us another of Joseph's dreams, telling him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt.

On the festival of light that's Epiphany, a new tradition has started of choosing star words to guide us for the calendar year. You can ask someone else to choose your word; you can look over the past year and at your current situation and in the Spirit decide on an emphasis to guide you the way a star led the magi. Particularly throughout scripture (and in the world of design, as well), we know word holds source (origins / beginnings), and immanence (future /possibilities). That's also the case with our star words.

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