Epiphany Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Worship Ideas for Epiphany</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Epiphany offers the church a time to focus on the journey and story of the Magi. While this story is sometimes pulled in with the story of Christ&rsquo;s birth around Christmas, the Magi did not arrive to see Jesus until about two years after the birth of Christ. The separate liturgical event of Epiphany allows us to focus on this story. The narrative of the Magi not only shows their faithfulness to God and their worship of Christ, but also demonstrates how in Christ God calls all nations, not just Israel, to worship God. This story also illustrates the tensions among Christ&rsquo;s authority and the existing earthly authorities. Not only do the Magi worship Christ the king, but they disobey King Herod by not returning to report on the young Jesus&rsquo; location.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Some themes that could be explored during Epiphany are God showing love to the world in Christ in calling the Magi, the Magi&rsquo;s faithfulness to God, and discernment among the different loyalties and loves that attract us or compel us to act.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><strong>When:</strong> January 6 (often observed on the nearest Sunday)</span><br /><span class="body-copy"><strong>Liturgical Colors:</strong> gold, white, yellow</span><br /><span class="body-copy"><strong>Associated objects/symbols:</strong> Magi, stars</span><br /><strong><span class="body-copy">Themes:</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy">revelation</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">the light of Christ (See <a href="#ManifestationofChrist,theLightoftheWorld">Manifestation of Christ, the Light of the World</a>)</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">all nations are blessed (See <a href="#AllNationsShallBeBlessed">All Nations Shall Be Blessed</a>)</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Ideas from Scripture for Epiphany</span></strong></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm"><span class="anchor" id="ManifestationofChrist,theLightoftheWorld" name="ManifestationofChrist,theLightoftheWorld">Manifestation of Christ, the Light of the World</span></span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">For generations, the people of Israel had waited for their king. Yet the king that was born was not what they were expecting&mdash;he was much more. He was not just an earthly king; he was a light to the whole world.</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2072">Psalm 72</a>, the manifestation of God&rsquo;s kingship</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2060">Isaiah 60</a>, the light of God</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/John%208%3A12">John 8:12</a>, the light of the world</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/2%20Corinthians%204%3A4%E2%80%936">2 Corinthians 4:4&ndash;6</a>, the light of Jesus Christ</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Titus%202%3A11%E2%80%9314">Titus 2:11&ndash;14</a>, waiting for the manifestation of Christ</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Revelation%2021%3A22%E2%80%9326">Revelation 21:22&ndash;26</a>, the full manifestation of Christ</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm"><span class="anchor" id="AllNationsShallBeBlessed" name="AllNationsShallBeBlessed">All Nations Shall Be Blessed</span></span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Often the content of our Christmas celebration is shaped by what we do with the weeks following Christmas. Churches that observe Christmas as a stand-alone event may find it difficult to get past the sentimentality of seeing a cute, mild-natured baby in the manger. But the incarnation involves much more than the drama of Christmas itself; it brings a vision of God&#39;s glory to the nations of the world.</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Genesis%2012%3A1%E2%80%933">Genesis 12:1&ndash;3</a>, all people will be blessed</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20Chronicles%2016%3A8%E2%80%9336">1 Chronicles 16:8&ndash;36</a>, declare God&rsquo;s deeds among all the peoples</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2047">Psalm 47</a>, the kings of the earth belong to God</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2067">Psalm 67</a>, let all the nations praise God</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2096">Psalm 96</a>, declare God&#39;s glory among the nations</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20117">Psalm 117</a>, &quot;Praise the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>, all you nations&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2012%3A4%E2%80%936">Isaiah 12:4&ndash;6</a>, make known among the nations what God has done</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2042%3A1%E2%80%939">Isaiah 42:1&ndash;9</a>, God will bring justice to the nations</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2049%3A5%E2%80%937">Isaiah 49:5&ndash;7</a>, the kings of the nations bow down</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2060%3A1%E2%80%933">Isaiah 60:1&ndash;3</a>, nations will come to the light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%202%3A1%E2%80%9312">Matthew 2:1&ndash;12</a>, the Magi worship</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%2013%3A22%E2%80%9330">Luke 13:22&ndash;30</a>, people from all corners of the earth will enter God&rsquo;s kingdom</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Romans%2015%3A5%E2%80%9313">Romans 15:5&ndash;13</a>, the gospel for Jews and Gentiles alike</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Ephesians%203%3A1%E2%80%9312">Ephesians 3:1&ndash;12</a>, Paul brings the gospel to Gentiles</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Philippians%202%3A1%E2%80%9311">Philippians 2:1&ndash;11</a>, every knee shall bow</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Revelation%205">Revelation 5</a>, the blood of the Lamb for people from every nation</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Shining Stars</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Harkening back to the covenantal promises in Genesis, this theme of shining stars demonstrates God&rsquo;s enduring faithfulness to God&rsquo;s people, who will be as many as the stars in the sky (Gen. 26:4).</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Genesis%2026%3A1%E2%80%935">Genesis 26:1&ndash;5</a>, as many as the stars in the sky</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Numbers%2024%3A1">Numbers 24:1</a>, a star will come out of Jacob</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%208">Psalm 8</a>, the Creator cares for humanity</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20136">Psalm 136</a>, God&rsquo;s love endures forever</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%202%3A1%E2%80%9312">Matthew 2:1&ndash;12</a>, the Magi follow the star</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Philippians%202%3A12%E2%80%9318">Philippians 2:12&ndash;18</a>, shine like stars in the sky</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Revelation%2022%3A12%E2%80%9317">Revelation 22:12&ndash;17</a>, Jesus is the bright morning star</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections on Epiphany</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">&ldquo;In the traditional celebration of the Christian year, the Sundays after Epiphany do not constitute a special season in the same way as do Advent and Lent. However, some congregations do celebrate this period as &quot;Epiphany season,&quot; focusing on the teaching and healing ministry of Christ. . . . Whether or not congregations follow a traditional lectionary for the weeks after Epiphany (making use of the traditional color green), these weeks can be a time to focus on Jesus&#39; ministry so that, from Christmas onward, worshipers grow in awareness of the significance of Jesus&#39; entire life. . . . The visual appearance of the worship space during Epiphany maintains the textures and colors of Christmas (white, yellow, and gold) to communicate that this season is a time of joy and light&rdquo;</span> <span class="heading-sm"><span class="body-copy-sm">(<em>The Worship Sourcebook</em>, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 499&ndash;500).</span></span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Affirmations of Faith for Epiphany</span></strong></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Belgic Confession, Art. 19</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">All these things we know<br />from the testimonies of Holy Scripture<br />as well as from the effects of the persons,<br />especially from those we feel within ourselves.<br />The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures,<br />which teach us to believe in this Holy Trinity,<br />are written in many places of the Old Testament,<br />which need not be enumerated<br />but only chosen with discretion.<br />In the book of Genesis God says,<br />&ldquo;Let us make humankind in our image,<br />according to our likeness.&rdquo;<br />So &ldquo;God created humankind in his image&rdquo;&mdash;<br />indeed, &ldquo;male and female he created them.&rdquo;<br />&ldquo;See, the man has become like one of us.&rdquo;<br />It appears from this<br />that there is a plurality of persons<br />within the Deity, when God says,<br />&ldquo;Let us make humankind in our image&rdquo;&mdash;<br />and afterward God indicates the unity<br />in saying, &ldquo;God created.&rdquo;<br />It is true that God does not say here</span><br /><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">how many persons there are&mdash;<br />but what is somewhat obscure to us<br />in the Old Testament<br />is very clear in the New.<br />For when our Lord was baptized in the Jordan,<br />the voice of the Father was heard saying,<br />&ldquo;This is my Son, the Beloved;&rdquo;<br />the Son was seen in the water;<br />and the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.<br />So, in the baptism of all believers<br />this form was prescribed by Christ:<br />Baptize all people &ldquo;in the name<br />of the Father and of the Son<br />and of the Holy Spirit.&rdquo;<br />In the Gospel according to Luke<br />the angel Gabriel says to Mary,<br />the mother of our Lord:<br />&ldquo;The Holy Spirit will come upon you,<br />and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;<br />therefore the child to be born will be holy;<br />he will be called Son of God.&rdquo;<br />And in another place it says:<br />&ldquo;The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,<br />the love of God,<br />and the communion of the Holy Spirit<br />be with all of you.&rdquo;<br />[&ldquo;There are three that testify in heaven,<br />the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit,<br />and these three are one.&rdquo;]<br />In all these passages we are fully taught<br />that there are three persons<br />in the one and only divine essence.<br />And although this doctrine surpasses human understanding,<br />we nevertheless believe it now,<br />through the Word,<br />waiting to know and enjoy it fully in heaven.<br />Furthermore,<br />we must note the particular works and activities<br />of these three persons in relation to us.<br />The Father is called our Creator,<br />by reason of his power.<br />The Son is our Savior and Redeemer,<br />by his blood.<br />The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier,<br />by living in our hearts.<br />This doctrine of the holy Trinity<br />has always been maintained in the true church,<br />from the time of the apostles until the present,<br />against Jews, Muslims,<br />and certain false Christians and heretics,<br />such as Marcion, Mani,<br />Praxeas, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Arius,<br />and others like them,<br />who were rightly condemned by the holy fathers.<br />And so, in this matter we willingly accept<br />the three ecumenical creeds&mdash;<br />the Apostles&rsquo;, Nicene, and Athanasian&mdash;<br />as well as what the ancient fathers<br />decided in agreement with them.</span></span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Our World Belongs to God, stanza 24</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">God remembered his promise to reconcile the world to himself;</span><br /><span class="body-copy">he has come among us in Jesus Christ,</span><br /><span class="body-copy">the eternal Word made flesh.</span><br /><span class="body-copy">He is the long-awaited Savior,</span><br /><span class="body-copy">fully human and fully divine,</span><br /><span class="body-copy">conceived by the Spirit of God and born of the virgin Mary.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">---</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Introduction from </span><span class="body-copy-sm"><em>The Worship Sourcebook</em>. 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 499.</span></p>