Epiphany: Seeing the world a new way
It was a 3-D photo craze in the 1990’s, repeated flat patterns which at first glance seemed to have no real meaning BUT when you looked at them long enough, in a certain way, SUDDENLY a hidden image would appear.
I was never particularly good with Magic Eye pictures and would stand, shaking my head, squinting and making faces while my family would say: “Don’t you SEE IT? It’s RIGHT THERE!”
I DID see it. There was a shift in reality and what I had perceived as flat changed into a robust image, jumping out of the page.
Oh, I get it! I see it now!
We use the word in the secular sense to refer to mean: (1) a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, (4) a revealing scene or moment.
It’s like the time you can’t quite figure out a problem from math class. It just doesn’t make sense. You can’t see how to solve it.
Then suddenly, the gears turn in your head. Things fall into place. And the solution is right there in front of you, as plain as day. Easy peasy.
In the church year we are now celebrating the season of Epiphany, which means for us the manifestation or revealing or disclosure of Jesus Christ to the world. There are several specific public events through which Jesus was made known: his birth, his baptism, his first miracle at the wedding at Cana. In the church year, we celebrate the coming of the Magi at Epiphany. The wise men brought gifts to Jesus. In some countries, children receive gifts on January 6 rather than December 25 in memory of the gifts the wise men brought. Their tribute is a forerunner of the day when all people will acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior and a reminder of the response we ourselves should make to Christ.
The word “epiphany” has to do with revelation and enlightenment, but I think it also carries an element of surprise. We are caught off guard a bit because the answer we had been trying so hard to find is ultimately something that seems so simple. How could we have missed it before?
Certainly, those at Jesus’ birth who had been searching sacred text and waiting so long for a coming Savior and Lord were surprised. How could a tiny baby born in a manger be both human and divine, here to save us and redeem the world? And yet, there it is. God’s answer, right in front of us.
Today is a first day back to school, back to work after the holidays. For many of us, that’s a little stressful. You might be feeling just a little fragmented, just a little bit like one of those Magic Eye images. If that’s the case, look around very carefully today. Pay close attention and you will see Jesus, walking with you this day and always. Happy Epiphany!