In many ways, I’m just a common ordinary Tim. The only thing uncommon about me is my own crazy weirdness. Which is why I am always amazed (even after 32 years of marriage) that I have such an uncommonly wonderful wife. It makes me feel rather privileged! Once she made an appearance in my life, I’ve never been quite the same.
And, yet, as privileged and as special as I feel being with my wife, there is an even greater light which causes me to say “eureka!” and “hallelujah!”
No matter who you are, your station in life, your background, your intellect or lack thereof, your creed, your ethnicity, your gender, your race, or anything else – the good news has come to you.
Each year on January 6, after the 12 days of Christmas, is the celebration in Christianity known as Epiphany. Christ’s coming to this earth as a child and becoming like us is much more than a baby in a manger. The day and the season known in the Christian Year as Epiphany lets you in on an incredible vision and greater understanding of God’s glory – to all kinds of people of the world.
Epiphany means “manifestation” or “appearance.” The event most closely associated with this Christian season is the visit of the Magi, or the wise men, to Jesus. Included in this time of the year between the seasons of Christmas and Lent is a special emphasis on the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus. The great celebration and focus of these weeks is that:
Deliverance from the power of sin, spiritual healing, and the freedom to live a new life is not limited to Israel and the Jews, but extends, as well, to the Gentiles – to you, my friend, to all of us common ordinary non-descript, even weird people.
Every season in the Christian Year has its unique perspective on grace. With Epiphany, you see that one of the most scandalous truths of Christianity is that God graces common ordinary people who seem far from God with the gift of Jesus. God grants repentance that leads to life for all kinds of people no matter what their race, ethnicity, class, or background. It is a wondrous and astounding spiritual truth that God’s gracious concern is not limited to a certain type of person or an elite group of persons, or even nice people who aren’t weird at all.
Epiphany teaches us that grace is and ought to be the guiding factor in how you and I interact with people.
Losing sight of grace leads to being critical and defensive. Like King Herod of old, a graceless person becomes enamored with earthly power and control. But embracing grace leads to the humility to see the image of God in people very different from ourselves.
Like the Apostle Peter, who learned in a vision to bring the gospel to non-Jews, old legalisms begin to be worn away so that people from all walks of life can have access to Jesus and his gracious saving and healing ministry. Grace brings down barriers and causes us to do away with unnecessary distinctions between others. Our appropriate response to such a grace is to glorify God for his marvelous and amazing work.
It is a gracious and merciful reality that the Magi, or Wise Men, who were pagan astrologers, were directed to the Messiah. A light was provided to lead them to Jesus. Apart from God’s care and intervention they would have remained in darkness. And it is no less true for people today. This old broken world is wrapped in darkness. All kinds of people have no light at the end of the tunnel of their lives for hope and new life. But the gospel of Jesus Christ brings that light to those walking around with no ability to see. Jesus, in his teaching ministry in the Sermon on the Mount, exhorted his followers not to hide their light but to let it shine for all to see.
Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, the best way to bring resolution to your own troubles and problems is through helping others make sense of their lives through the gracious light of Christ so that they can see an appearance, an epiphany, of what their lives can be in the gracious rule of the kingdom of God.
Celebrate, my friend, the day and the season of Epiphany. Journey with Jesus through his earthly upbringing and into his gracious ministry to people. Keep vigilant to not let your light grow dim. Instead, hunger and thirst after Christ’s righteousness so that your joy becomes full and your light is bright.
For a star in the east is shining, and even us weirdos can see it.