Should Epiphany only be celebrated in the dark?

A beautiful blue sky day in winter

Happy Epiphany! Such a bright, sunny day—how rare for these parts in winter! How do you plan to celebrate Epiphany?

On Epiphany we remember wandering “wise men” who tracked a star and “followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship him” (Matthew 2:2, The Voice).

Did you know that the stars are always shining, even in the daytime? It’s easy to forget isn’t it? We need a total solar eclipse to be able to see them, but they are there! Epiphany, with it’s focus on stars, do we have to wait until dark to celebrate?

The word Epiphany literally means to show or to make known or to reveal. It gets this name because the magi had finally reached their long-traveled destination. They were searching for a child, born to be God among us, and they had finally found him! They worshiped Jesus, presented gifts suitable for royalty, and thus revealed to the world that Jesus was a king.

Three wise men on camels ponder a star in the sky
If they were focused on a star, I wonder how the magi navigated during the daylight hours?

Was the star bright enough during the day? Or did they only travel at night? (The Bible doesn’t tell us.)

Was their arrival at our Savior’s doorstep a dark-night happening?

We think of daylight as a time when it is easier to see; to find our way. We label “darkness” as scary and to be avoided.

Can we find comfort in our darkness — the kind that occurs in broad daylight — knowing that the stars are always there?

Light a candle at the dinner table tonight. Think about and discuss ways we can be God’s light helping others along the journey.

Photo credits:
Bright, daylight photo, copyright, from my archives.
A Star in the East, a painting by W. L. Taylor, 1900, in the Public Domain.

Today is the day

Today is the day to proclaim Epiphany! (Even though it was commemorated in church last Sunday, today, January 6th, is the officially marked day.) You may finally move your magi nativity pieces into their final resting spot — assuming that they’ve been traveling over your tablelands until now.

Three wise men approach a nativity scene

Epiphany serves as a reminder that God has come among us as a human being – God with us as Jesus. Celebrations of Epiphany traditionally are tied to the arrival of the wise men to worship Jesus.

These magi have always fascinated me. Their courage! Their fortitude! They likely traveled a thousand miles from their home in Persia or Arabia, all the way to Bethlehem — guided by an unusual star in the sky.

They followed this star, not knowing where they would end up.

Can we do that?

Start off on a journey not knowing where we are headed?

Graphic says - The wise step out in faith

How about your family’s faith journey?
Or even your own personal walk with God?

Do you know where your journey will take you?
Do you know what you will find along the way?

Will you step out in faith… to grow your faith?

Your family is depending on you to take the lead.

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Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives. I created the starry sky graphic from various Public Domain clip art.

Who was doing the seeking?

In our current Advent Rotation, we are learning about the wise men, who upon discovering an unusual new star, traversed from afar, looking for the new king. (In those days an unfamiliar star = a royal event; all great kings had a star associated with their birth.)

Arriving in Jerusalem these magi created quite a commotion with their inquiry…

A photo of the Milky Way Galaxy with the words from Matthew 2:2

These wise men were on a determined hunt for this new king. We don’t know how far they had traveled, or what sort of difficulties they came up against; they persevered.

But who was seeking whom?

Who got these magi started on their quest?
Who put the star up in the sky?
Who re-hung the star after their stop in Jerusalem? (Matthew 2:9)
Who guided them to find Jesus?

This seeking seems to be going both ways! Seeking Jesus is a beneficial practice, but what about considering that Christ also seeks us?

How would it benefit us to notice signs of God leading us to Jesus?

A friend offers assistance at the right moment.

A child asks a pointed question.

A word heard, sparks thoughts.

If we’re not looking, will we notice?

Talk with your family about God seeking us. Here are some questions to guide your discussion. Perhaps ask a few questions during a car ride. For an easy to print out version, click here.

Star clipartRead: Matthew 2:1-2.
Ask: What questions do you suppose the wise men asked before they started their journey? (How far will we have to travel? Will the star continue to guide us?)
Why do you suppose the magi left everything to go looking for Jesus?
I wonder how the star had that much pull in their lives?
Can you imagine God in his wonderous power, hanging a bright star as a sign to the wise men?
What was God hoping these wise men would do?
What has been your “star” leading you to Jesus?

Star clipartRead: Matthew 2:1-8
Ask: When Herod heard about the magi asking about “one born king of the Jews,” he called together the chief priests and religious teachers. What did he ask them?
What was their response?
How do you suppose Herod really felt about this “new king?”
How come these religious leaders didn’t act interested in Jesus?

Star clipartRead: Matthew 2:1-12
Ask: When the wise men saw Jesus, what did they do?
Do we worship Jesus like the magi did?
What is different?
We could say that the wise men were “wise” because they went looking for Jesus. How would we describe a not-so-wise person? (Too busy to look? Not willing to try hard enough?)
How could you help someone become “wise?”
Contemplate how the magi packed for their trip. How does a wise person “pack” for Christmas? (Plenty of patience?)

God loves you. He seeks your love in return!

Photo credits:
Our Milky Way Galaxy original photo by C. Malin of ESO, made available for use under a Creative Commons 3.0 License. Altered image to add Bible passage, by Carol Hulbert at Flickr.
A slightly altered (coloration, size) clipart star, from the Public Domain via

Epiphany: Let’s go and worship him!

Today, January 6th, is Epiphany. (Epiphany may have been celebrated in church last week. It depends on where Sunday falls in relation to January 6th.)

Epiphany remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to Jesus and worshiping him.

The word Epiphany literally means manifestation (to show) or to make known or to reveal. It gets this name because the magi, in bringing gifts and worshiping Jesus, revealed to the world that Jesus was a king.

A parament showing the wise men

I’ve also seen Epiphany loosely translated as “Ah Ha!”

I like that.

Ah Ha!  God is now among us!  Let’s go and worship him!

Are words like that on your mind as you prepare to go to church?  I remember when my kids were little, the thought was:  Come on, we’re going to be late!

What is in your mind when you head for worship?  What words do you say to your children?

Ah Ha!  God is now among us!  Let’s go and worship him!

Would it make a difference if we could teach our children to think that way about going to church? Perhaps instead of saying: “Let’s get ready for church,” we say (with appropriate gusto) “Ah Ha! Jesus is among us. Let’s go and celebrate Jesus!”  Or “Ah Ha!  We get to go worship God!”

Try it next Sunday and report back on how it goes.


Photo credits:
This image is stored on my Flickr account. It is from my archives—of a church parament I helped create!

How does God get our attention?

I have started a reading plan from The Everyday Bible. Each day there are a few short passages to read and a statement for further thought. Today’s passages involve angels and Jesus’ birth. The statement is: “If an angel had told me of Jesus’ birth _____…” with the assumption being that I’ll fill in the blank.

I know how I’d answer that! I just plain wouldn’t believe it! Joseph being told by an angel while he slept? (I’d just think that I’d had a weird dream.) The Shepherds? (I would be looking for the wires and other accoutrements of a stunt.) It seems like today’s high tech world would be trouble for God.

How would God get our attention?
How does God tell us that he is now among us?

Thankfully God is always reaching out to us; always trying to get our attention!

One way is through nature. Take a walk and look around you. (Yes, even if it’s cold or rainy!) Look at the intricate details around you. Dried seed heads waving in the wind? Or perhaps some wild flowers. Red berries on a bush? A cultivated corn crop.

God is among us!

Variegated Miscanthus wearing winter colorswild flowers waving in the wind

Winter berries on an American Cranberry Bush Viburnum

Winter berries on an American Cranberry Bush Viburnum
my home garden corn crop

Where will you notice God clamoring for your attention?


Photo credits:
All photos copyright. From my archives.