After 20 years of experiencing different church and denominational traditions my family is attending a church that practices the liturgical traditions of worship. I grew up in a mainline denominational church that was marked by the protestant church calendar and the rich liturgical practices that came with it. In many ways my current church experience brings with it a feeling of coming home, much like returning to the home of my childhood and enjoying my favorite childhood meal. For me it has been an unexpected but significant awakening of communion with the Lord. Or, an epiphany.
The liturgical church calendar consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches that determines when various celebrations are to be observed, and which portions of scripture are to be read on a weekly and daily basis throughout the year. According to this calendar we are currently coming to the end of the season of Epiphany. In the Western Church the season of Epiphany begins with the festival of Epiphany on January 6th, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Magi and, in the Eastern Church, the baptism of Christ. According to Webster’s Dictionary the word epiphany is defined as: an appearance or manifestation of a god or other supernatural being or a moment of sudden intuitive understanding; flash of insight.
Have you ever considered what it must have been like for those Magi who were some of the first to experience the manifestation of Christ? No doubt they were unsure of what they would find as they followed the star that guided them. They had faith, I’m sure, that their God was leading, but there must have been uncertainty of who this baby in the manger really was. Then, they experienced epiphany. As I read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry I notice countless times in which his early followers experienced an epiphany as they encountered him. As Jesus called his earliest disciples to follow him they routinely did so with little question. In the passage of John 1:43-51 Jesus calls an eager Philip who then recruits a reluctant Nathanael. They experienced epiphany.
It’s unclear what happened to cause Philip to so quickly declare that Jesus was the one of “whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote”. Likewise, Nathanael surely experienced something profound for him to exclaim, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God” so quickly upon encountering Jesus.
I often wish that I would experience an epiphany regarding the presence of Jesus in my life more often. My life is busy, defined by the next event, meeting, or task to check off a list. In the midst of “life as we know it,” I am sure that I miss opportunities for an epiphany of Jesus’ work in my life. During this season of epiphany I hope that I can slow down, notice Jesus when he calls me to follow him more deeply and perhaps even experience epiphany. I hope the same for you and your family.
Questions to consider:
- Have you ever had an experience of “epiphany” in your life (relative to God working in your life or anything else)?
- Why do you think the earliest disciples of Jesus often followed him so readily when he first called them?
- What would it take for you to have an “epiphany” regarding Jesus’ work in your life? What would it take for you to follow Jesus readily when he calls you?