January 2018 Letter

The Season of Epiphany

" 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2

The Epiphany of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is one of the major festivals of the church year (such as Christmas and Easter) and is celebrated on January 6th. But what is Epiphany? In Western church tradition, Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. The theme of Epiphany and its season is the manifestation or revelation of the incarnate God to the world.

Matthew was the only author to record the visit of the Magi, the Greek term that is translated into wise men. For years biblical critics have questioned the details in the Christmas Gospels: the Roman census, the Virgin Birth, the angelic announcement to the Shepherds, the infant massacre at Bethlehem, and whether the wise men truly existed. "How could the wise men traipse across the desert following a 'star' and then arrive in Jerusalem asking the question in Matthew 2:2; " Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. "

The Magi were an ancient group of priests among the Babylonians and Medo-Persians. They were extremely well educated for their day and were experts in religion, history, medicine, astronomy, astrology, and magic. Whatever the origin of these eastern sages, their visit had a much greater significance for later Christianity because the Wise Men were pagans and not Hebrews. The fact that Gentile (non-Hebrew) magi worshipped and adored Jesus the same as Jewish shepherds symbolizes the universal outreach of Christianity. "And nations [Gentiles] shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. " Isaiah 60:3

Since Gentiles comprise the overwhelming majority of Christians today, the Magi were our representatives at the Nativity. The Light they saw in the baby at Bethlehem pierced the darkness of their paganism, just as the Light of the World can illuminate the darkness of sin, ignorance, apathy, fanaticism, and terrorism that surrounds us today. What began as the Light from a solitary star has now illuminated the entire globe through the One who said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. " ( John 8:12) And that is the reason why Epiphany is such an important event in our church calendar year!

God's Blessings for a Safe & Prosperous 2018 !

Pastor David A. Feddern