We come today to the last Sunday in Epiphany. Next week begins Lent and the church's preparation for Easter. Most Christians, at least those who are Protestants, know very little about this celebration. This is actually a sad loss since whole segments of the church do not not use the church calendar. January 6 is the actual day of "The Epiphany of our Lord." Then the Sundays that follow are called: "The First Sunday after Epiphany," and "The Second Sunday after Epiphany," etc.
Two major themes dominate this season. The first is the coming of light into the world and the power of that light to draw us to God. That light is Jesus. The second major theme is revelation. The texts associated with Epiphany are chosen to reveal to us who Jesus is. There is an emphasis in these chosen texts on calling individuals and congregations to teaching and healing ministry.
Epiphany is one of the oldest celebrations in Christian history. Easter and Pentecost are based on Jewish celebrations going back several thousands years before Christ. Early Christians transformed a two-day festival of the Egyptians into a time to honor the new born Christ, thus the "Day of Holy Lights" now commemorates the manifestation of God in the birth and baptism of Jesus.
A friend of mine says that if you could create a symbol for this season it would be one of those big spotlights used for musicals, dramas, speeches or grand openings. During this season the church seeks to hold the spotlight intensely on Jesus. We thus pray to hear what he is saying to us all over again. We hear voices like those of John the Baptist, Samuel and Eli, Philip and Nathaniel, Simon and Andrew, etc.
I have come to appreciate Epiphany deeply. It is a blessed time to prepare us for the next great season to come: Lent. Then comes the greatest time of all, Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The flow and pattern of these seasons helps us to remember our Lord as we ought. I am reminded that the very words of institution used at the Lord's Supper tell us "to do this in remembrance of me." I am prone to forgetfulness thus frequent coming to the Table, and to the various seasons of the church, helps me immensely.