Magi & Epiphanies

cross posted on

Its one of those rare Sundays when Narrative Lectionary and RCL mirror one another, and we all pause to celebrate Epiphany. Epiphany is a funny concept. We think of it as a sudden burst of inspiration, but experience is that it is more gradual, like the journey of the magi. Whether the magi come a few days after the birth of Jesus or when he was a toddler or preschooler, the magi are unique because they come after the fact. This gives me comfort, that perhaps its not too late to have an epiphany. Perhaps the window for learning and brilliant inspiration is not so tight as we would make it out to be.


This would make sense to me because humans need time to adjust. Maybe this is why Jesus grows into adulthood like an other human being. We need time to adjust–Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for 3 days and sort of forgot he was God during that time so there’s another story where adjustment is made manifest. We need time to get used to Jesus, we need time to get to know him. As Christians sometimes the question is asked, when did you first know Jesus? A seemingly innocuous query, I’m not sure that there is a clear answer. Maybe you can point to when your sense of Jesus started to develop but our relationship with God is ongoing and grows and changes with our sense of self.

I often think of how my sense of self grows and changes with time. How the moment of “Happy New Year” is just the beginning. Because even though I theoretically know its 2019, It will be weeks before I start putting the correct date on checks and papers. It will be month before the year gains some kind of shape and meaning and the realization that it actually is a new year will strike me again, and again until it becomes habit.

Knowing Jesus is like this for me, which is why I need the practice, even though I have had 30+ years of practicing the birth of Jesus Christ, its a slow, life-long realization that Christ was born on earth its a struggle to remember that Jesus was fully human like me and that God is somehow enfleshed deity  at the same time that he is human.

Its a journey. Like your career and your relationships. You might be a mother, daughter, wife but what that means grows and changes as a result. I wonder how the magi were changed after their journey. Did they become a family that reunion-ed with one another every year? Did they get so sick and tired of each other that they seldom met after that? Did they become the local storytellers, each telling a different and unique journey under the star to see Jesus?

Funny how the Magi all went on the same journey, but probably learned different things.  Funny how there are four different gospels in the Bible and each choose to focus on a different part of the nativity story. Funny that Matthew even knew about the Magi. Was he there? Did he sit in Mary’s kitchen and hear the story? Was it common knowledge in Bethlehem and Nazareth that these strangers made this journey?

Where do you find the epiphany in the text this week?

Let us know where you are finding God and Epiphany during this Holy Christmas Season.

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Shannon A Thompson

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