The Magi were present at the first Epiphany. Not only did they experience a literal epiphany — an appearance of deity — they also had an epiphany within themselves. They realized the significance of their experience initiated by the Christ child in a simple, humble setting.
“And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
They experienced an epiphany both in seeing the manifestation of God in flesh as well as within themselves in a way that precipitated spontaneous worship. They truly celebrated Epiphany!
Instead of Christmas being a single day of the year, as most people celebrate, Epiphany extends the season and presents an interesting perspective that might be what many of us need to have our own personal epiphanies.
In The In-Between, Jeff Goins observes that there is a significant amount of time between Christ’s birth and the arrival of the magi, perhaps even years. Taking this thought further, could our view of Christmas change if we were to extend our celebrating of the Christ child’s birth?
Instead of scrunching the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the shepherds and the magi all in one day, what if we celebrated each one separately? What if we slowed down the pace of Christmas by extending our celebrations through Epiphany?
Would deliberately slowing down the holiday – considering each event at its meaning within the Christmas story – perhaps slow down our lives enough to help gain some much-needed perspective? Could establishing such a tradition — as other cultures and some Christians actually have — make the holiday & the anticipation leading up to it more significant?
Perhaps, as Goin notes, slowing down and spreading out the celebration of Christmas by including Epiphany might “remind us that every arrival is not an event, but a process.” How would experiencing the Christmas season as a process change you?