In a few days, the Christmas trees will be taken down. Slowly, the lights will come down from the streets. The decorations will be packed away for another year. The last Christmas carol will be heard. The Christmas season will be over, and the Epiphany season will be upon us.

It's really a shame that the Christmas celebrations are over, because the Epiphany season is when Christmas comes to us. The word "epiphany" comes from the greek word "epiphaneia", and literally means "a revelation or manifestation of god". In the Christian church, "The Day of Epiphany" is celebrated on January 6, and commemorates the revealing of the baby Jesus to the three wise men at Bethlehem. It is sometimes called the "Gentile's Christmas" because the wise men were Gentiles; and since most of us are Gentiles (non-Israelites), it could be called our Christmas as well.

At the first Christmas, the baby Jesus was surrounded by Jewish people. The shepherds, the visitors of the Census, the innkeeper, even Mary and Joseph were all Israelites. They were all the chosen people of the God of Israel. It's almost as if the Christmas story is closed to outsiders.

Until Matthew 2, the wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying,

"Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East." And lo, the star came to rest over the place where the child was. And when the wise men came to the house, they saw the child with Mary, and they fell down and worshipped him, giving him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

The star rose, and showed the wise men where the baby Jesus was; so they could worship him. The wise men were not Israelites, they were not the chosen ones. They were outsiders to the story. But, the star was for them. The star shone for these outsiders, and showed them the way to the manger. The star showed them that the baby born in Bethlehem was not just for the people of Israel, but for the Gentiles as well. Epiphany is when strangers to the faith were shown the way to Jesus. The wise men came as outsiders, but they left as believers. They were saved by the baby that was born on Christmas. But, they were saved on the day of Epiphany.

The star is the ultimate symbol of Epiphany. For the star showed that Jesus was born for the whole world, and for all people. Without the star, the world may never have seen the wondrous baby, or heard the Christmas message of salvation. Without the star, the birth of Christmas would be a meaningless event for us. Just as the star showed the wise men to Jesus, it shows that Christmas is for us.

The star shown down on the baby Jesus. The wise men came and worshipped the baby. They knew that this baby was Son of God, born as the Savior of the world. It was the Epiphany, the "Gentile's Christmas"; and "our Christmas". A dear member of my former congregation told me, "during Epiphany, there should always be a little piece of the Christmas season left hanging in the house." A little piece of Christmas to remind us about why we celebrated Christmas in the first place. It can be a wreathe, or a candle, or a red bow. Or maybe, it can be a star that will show us the way to the baby Jesus. Merry Epiphany!

Pastor Ron