Since ancient days, January 6 has marked the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord Jesus Christ, one of the oldest Christian feasts. Epiphany originally celebrated four different events: the Baptism of Christ; Christ's first miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana; the Nativity of Christ; and the visitation of the Wise Men or Magi. Each of these is a revelation of God to man.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which Dennis Bratcher describes as “probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions,” end with the Feast of Epiphany. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th). In some traditions, the first day of Christmas begins on the evening of December 25th with the following day considered the First Day of Christmas (December 26th). In these traditions, the twelve days begin December 26 and include Epiphany on January 6.
Click here to learn more about the underlying significance of the familiar Christmas carol and its relationship to Epiphany.
Derived from a Greek verb meaning "to reveal," an epiphany, in a general sense, is a sudden intuitive realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something. This revelatory manifestation of a divine being is also described as a sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something; a comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization:
In seeking a more precise definition, this sentence from thefreedictionary.com provided an example of how the word is used: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier).
Epiphanies can come at the most unlikely times; in the most unlikely manner and in some of the most unlikely places. After an epiphany, one is enlightened to the point that one comes “to know for one’s self” or one comes to know a new reality in a deeper personal way. This kind of “knowing” corresponds to the Greek word ginosko, translated “to know” in A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament where E.W. Bullinger translates the verb:
To perceive, observe, obtain knowledge of or insight into. It denotes a personal and true relationship between the person knowing and the object known, i.e. to be influenced by one’s knowledge of the object, to suffer one’s self to be determined thereby.
Once you “see yourself for yourself” you will never be the same. May this New Year provide an ongoing series of life-changing experiences for each person who desires for God to reveal Himself. May we all experience the love of God in a vibrant new way as 2013 continues to unfold in beauty.