By Jessie Marinucci
Day 1 of 5: Epiphany
“Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’ After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 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. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.” (ESV)
As we approach the feast day of the Epiphany, a celebration in memory of the journey of the Magi, we make way for the remembrance of a great appearance of God in our midst, and perhaps we even make room to recognize the appearance of God in our lives today.
Traditionally celebrated 12 days after Christmas, this January 6th will be a day that many Christians come together to remember and honor the story of the three wise men who were led in light to greet the Christ-child, Emmanuel, God with us.
To journey in this way, making a pilgrimage—seeking after nothing more than to greet and glorify the One said to be savior—is an act of pure devotion and trustful following of the belief that God plants in us. May it also be a day of communion of spirits, as the long-known truth that Mary walked with while carrying Jesus in the womb is now able to be fully shared with others who have come to know the Truth that rests peacefully in a manger.
Lest we forget the journey that all faithful must endure before coming to recognize God-with-us, may today be a time to pause and recollect and harness the energy of devotion that fuels all pilgrims as they make way to glorify this fleshed Mystery.
Making Room, Making Way
One remarkable element of the journey of the Magi is that so much of the end-state of worship and offering is dependent upon listening and following. It is a story of story—that which we can and cannot know—and it is the story that tells us, if we listen, of stories to come. Looking closely at the structure of story, we can easily recognize the archetype of beginning, middle, and end. Yet we continually in our lives abandon the value of the middle stages that make beginnings and ends so valuable.
In our Christian tradition, how much more notably do we celebrate Christ’s birth and Christ’s death (and resurrection), than we celebrate the Gospel that gives us an everyday model to walk with Christ during his life? We gather together and honor loved ones for birthdays and funerals much more often than we extend gratitude or appreciation on any given Tuesday.
Walking with the Magi and joining alongside these faithful pilgrims gives us a chance to reverently rise to the occasion of celebrating Christ’s life yet to come. And can we ask ourselves today, what life that is yet to come do we fail to celebrate in the ordinary moments? At the dawn of a new year when hopes are highest, how do we prepare to greet ordinary life as a sacred communion with the God who walks with us every day? Rather than goals to drop physical weight, what about an intention to shed the excess that buries us in doubt and denial when God is waiting for us, humble and stunning.