Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Confession: celebrating Epiphany wasn’t part of my family’s culture until recently. Growing up, we waited until January 6 to move the three kings over to the manger, and we were never in a rush to take down our decorations. We’ve carried those traditions forward through the years.
One new thing I started last year was reading the lectionary for Epiphany and talking about Isaiah 60:1-6 with the girls. I love talking with kids about the myriad connections throughout the Old and New Testaments. It’s like a giant dot-to-dot that they slowly connect, sometimes missing a few dots that they come back to later. The more dots they connect brings the picture of a life with Christ into focus.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
There’s something magical that happens when my girls or my youth group kids read scripture containing fulfilled prophecy. Their eyes widen, there’s often a gasp – God’s word reveals itself to them and they receive the revelation. There’s lots of opportunity for that with Isaiah 60:1-6. We like to imagine that God is speaking to baby Jesus.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Just as our parenting begins on the day we receive the gifts known as our children, God’s parenting of Jesus begins. God says to Jesus, “wake up, little baby, and look around… see who has come to visit you!” Do you remember saying something like that to your babies and toddlers when family and friends came to see your miracle of new life? Then God reminds Jesus that he is special, and will have generations after him who will love, honor and bless him.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
We want our children to know they’re special. They’re full of endless possibilities, hopes, dreams, and promises. As parents, we want to have everything they’ll need to be successful. God is no different. Jesus’s father wanted him to know that the world would be his, before he became the world’s. I believe this is at the heart of what we celebrate on Epiphany. God shows his son to the world – the secret’s out. The mystery is revealed.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
Think back to when brought your baby home. What was your main concern? I wanted my children to be safe and protected. One way God protects our children is through the members of our village – that special group consisting of our family, close friends, and faith community. Jesus’s village included the Three Kings, who teach us how to celebrate, honor, and protect our children.
Epiphany offers us a chance to remember that Jesus was a king, but not the king people thought he would be. He was a baby, a child of God, and his life promised that we, too, would all be children of God. The prophets foretold him, God revealed him, the Three Kings honored him, and we adore him.
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Where do you find Jesus in the Old Testament? How do you celebrate Jesus on the Feast of the Epiphany?