Biblical Words 
Epiphany is about a brilliant light coming into the world for all the nations.
Christmas, especially as presented by Luke, celebrates the
humble and poor in God’s salvation for
Epiphany, on the other hand, glorifies the royalty of God’s servant, whose righteousness and power shine like a beacon light for all the nations.
Epiphany is about light shining,
and the great Isaiah passage of Epiphany summons
This is a breathtaking view, a vast panorama exceeding a Disney World laser-light spectacular. [The last one of these I saw may have been in the 20th century!]
Here is the scene: all the world is a vast black space when a
piercing light cuts through from the east and illumines a glorious city on an
elevated summit (see
Among the tribute flowing to
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14.
The Psalm selection also focuses on the tribute and enrichment from the nations, but now the emphasis is on God’s rule through an anointed king instead of the glory of God’s city.
The psalm is a prayer uttered on
behalf of God’s king by the king’s people.
(Early Christians probably chanted it on behalf of their newly risen and
enthroned King. See allusions to Psalm
In the prayer the king is seen as the source of blessing for the whole natural realm, producing “prosperity” (shalom) for the people and rain and showers for the earth (verses 3 and 6).
More especially is the king the
source of justice and righteousness for the poor and oppressed of God’s people
(verses 2 and 7). The tribute prayed for
from the kings of Tarshish and
This is the kind of rule by the Son of David that will attract the devotion of the nations and cause them to stream to God’s city with gifts and new orientations of their power and wealth!
The Epistle selection is an instance of a passage too rich to be exhausted in a lectionary reading. The thread that is relevant to Epiphany, however, is “the mystery of Christ” – a mystery that concerns the Nations. (“Gentiles” in both Hebrew and Greek [as well as Latin] means “nations.”)
The “mystery” is that the true
congregation (church) of God’s people is not confined to the people of
The conclusion of this line of thought is that it is revealed to the heavenly powers themselves that the nations are joined with Israel in the church of Jesus Christ, “so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (verse 10).
The multi-ethnic and
The exalted language and imagery of the message about the nations used in the previous readings is left behind by the Gospel reading for Epiphany, the visit of the Magi.
Here a series of simple circumstances are
related very concisely. We do not even
hear about these magoi while they are still in the east, but they simply
The coming of these men from the
east causes a great stir in the royal court in
The narrative presents without special emphasis that the visitors from the east are lofty representatives of the nations of the world, come to find the secret king whose coming changes the whole world. Here tribute from the nations is presented in an utterly unassuming way. The modesty and the secrecy of the real identity and destined work of God’s saving King are preserved. Only those with special wisdom (knowing the “mystery”) are aware of the cosmic import of what has happened and know how to conduct themselves accordingly.
Their welfare and their secret are preserved by God, in spite of Herod’s plots, and these sages “left for their own country by another road” (verse 12).
The light which Epiphany is about had come into the world, and only a few knew it.