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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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What is Epiphany?

Epiphany is a Greek word meaning "appearance" or "coming into light." The day of Epiphany is Jan. 6, which begins the season that ends the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In the second century, "epiphany" became the name for the commemoration of Christ's baptism as well as his birth. Later it centered on the visit of the Magi, Jesus' baptism and the miracle at the wedding in Cana.

The season's focus is one of light, specifically Christ as the light of the world. In the church, this season has emphasized the movement of Christianity beyond the Jewish people to Gentiles. The Magi represented this movement because they were non-Jews from the East who came to worship the baby Jesus. The season has often been used to lift up global ministries.

Epiphany tells us that amid the uncertainties of this life God has spoken to us, that we are the recipients of revelation. While much remains hidden, much has been revealed.

It's customary at Epiphany to mark symbols of blessing above doorways. People can mark their front door with these symbols: the year, the initials of the traditional names for the Magi — Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar — and four crosses representing the four seasons. Order the symbols this way: 20 + C + M + B + 03.

In the new year, this marking serves as a blessing over the household. Be artistic and creative — use chalk or decorate cardboard with designs. After the doorway has been marked, offer this prayer: "God of love, you sent your Son to his home with us. As the Magi welcomed Jesus with gifts on bended knee, so we welcome you into heart and home. Bless each room with your presence and peace that we may be filled with your Spirit of joy. In your holy name we pray. Amen."

Submitted by St. Paul Lutheran Church, Evanston, Ill.


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