As we begin a new year, instead of cluttering it with half-hearted or self-focused resolutions, let’s focus our attention on Epiphany.
TheWorship Sourcebook tells us that “epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning ‘manifestation or appearance,’ and in church history this word has become closely associated with the revelation of Christ in connection with the visit of the Magi.”
This special occasion in the church calendar has come to represent the bringing of “a vision of God’s glory to the nations of the world.” So, in worship and beyond, we associate Epiphany with joy and light.
Because our faith tradition approaches Epiphany more loosely than some others do, our observances of Epiphany vary widely. I recall, as a worship planner, some of the songs we would consider: “This Little Light of Mine”—a children’s favorite. Other favorites include the classic hymn “How Bright Appears the Morning Star,” the gospel feel of “Jesus, the Light of the World,” and the contemporary song “How Great Is Our God.” Some of us even recall Godspell’s “Light of the World.”
Light has a way of drawing our attention while also making clear what is to be seen. The entertainment industry uses light well. But even in more ordinary ways, we are drawn toward light.
When I lived near Chicago, nighttime airline flights showed the city lights. As the plane began its descent, I’d peer intently out the window as street grids and landmark buildings began to take shape.
I remember a student production at Trinity Christian College where, without warning, the theater was plunged into darkness. The entire campus had lost power. Ever inventive, the drama professor huddled with her actors and actresses. Suddenly they ran out of the theater. But within minutes they were back, handing flashlights to those in the front row who then trained them on the stage, giving the play new life.
The light of Epiphany brings new life. Just as the flick of a switch can transform darkness into light, so it is when Christ’s light comes into our lives.
Some years ago, I was the commencement speaker at Elim Christian School as my son Paul and his classmates were graduating. I chose as a text 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit.”
I realized that for these graduates, with their various disabilities, the message had to be especially accessible and understandable. So I handed each one a small mirror and challenged them to reflect the light of Christ, referring to the song “This Little Light of Mine.”
When Christ’s light comes into our lives, we reflect that light, sharing it with others. I’ve started asking Christian Reformed Church members to tell me their stories—stories of the light of Christ reflecting into lives and communities.
Recently I worshiped at the Chinese Church of Iowa City. Pastor Hsieh told me about the opportunities they have to bring light into the lives of students and visiting scholars, sometimes arranging a baptism just before a visitor returns home. His story triggered the memory of a verse in Isaiah: “Nations will come to your light” (60:3).
This New Year, let’s share our stories of light coming into lives and communities as God works in and through the Christian Reformed Church: the congregations, the church-planting efforts, the global missions of Word and deed. Your denominational agencies and special ministries share their stories each month in these center pages of The Banner. But your stories are important too. Email them to me at email@example.com and I’ll share them further. May the Spirit use them to shed light in additional and surprising ways.