I think Epiphany might be my new favorite season.
We’ve usually celebrated it as a one-day event in our house—January 6, the last day of the official 12 days of Christmas, the day that marks the wise men (or maji) from the east wandering their way toward Jesus.
Technically, though, it’s a season lasting from January 6th until the first day of lent, so it’s usually at least a good 6 weeks long.
Though we often add the wise men to manger scenes at Christmastime, apparently it actually took them two years to find Jesus, meaning they arrived well after he was up and gone from the manger.
In the atrium with the 3-6 year olds, when presenting a scripture narrative with accompanying materials, we never speak and move figures at the same time. The children are so enchanted with movement
that they won’t hear a word we are saying. So we read, stop, move figures. Read, stop, move figures. And so on. It can get tedious for impatient grown-ups who aren’t as easily enchanted with movement anymore.
In the last month I’ve introduced the children to the “Birth of Jesus and Adoration of the Shepherds,” as well as the “Adoration of the Maji.” I’ve noticed that a lot of time is taken up “journeying” various figures across the rug before the “adoration” part can actually happen.
And like the little clay figures shuffling across the rug, we are in what can feel like a stagnant time of
year right now. We are waiting for something more interesting to happen. People are cold and hunkered, inside mostly, waiting for the weather to change. Football is winding down, baseball hasn’t started yet and it’s not yet time for March Madness.
Things are moving slowly and we are wondering, “Are we there yet?”
We are in epiphany.
The word means “showing,” as in God showing himself, giving a revelation of himself—especially to unlikely recipients, to those outside official religious constructs.
The Maji were not part of the religious establishment in Israel, and yet as seekers of wisdom and truth, they were drawn to the person of Jesus. The fact that they are so prominently included in the story shows that He was drawn to them as well.
This year in our family we each wrote down some names of folks we know who seem drawn to God but maybe feel further off from him than they’d like. We’ve been trying to pray for those friends during these epiphany weeks at dinner or bedtime, when we remember, which is maybe a quarter of the time if we’re lucky.
I told the kids to write their own name down first, because aren’t we all a little further off than we’d like? And doesn’t the “showing” of God himself seem a long time coming, if it comes at all? And doesn’t the hungering and wandering and squinting to see the star in the dark get tiring and confusing for us sometimes?
The good news is even though it took the wise men two tedious years, apparently they weren’t too late for the showing.
And apparently it wasn’t a waste of time. Something about that showing elicited their best gifts.
And there was “homage”—an adoration so deep it encompassed their whole bodies as they stretched out with their faces on the ground. The children love to practice this over and over again, little souls enchanted with movement.
God help us be fascinated with movement like little children. Let the journey be enchanting, even when it feels slow. Help us believe in The Showing, and what it might show in us.
© 2012 Standing on Peace