The word epiphany means “a manifestation, a showing forth.” Starting in the third century, January 6 became the Feast Day of the Epiphany, when Christians celebrate the Magi finding the baby Jesus with his mother at their “house” in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11). The Western churches use Luke’s story (2:1–20) and December 25 to celebrate this birth.
Neither story is true, but both are metaphors showing us, sixty years after Jesus was murdered, that this birth was extra special. The epiphany in these stories is that this humble birth is all about the Christ (“Messiah” in Hebrew) coming into our presence.
I embrace the January 6 Epiphany. The December fairytale has become so commercialized that Jesus’s birth is now about presents, not presence.
On January 6, 2021, there were a series of other “epiphanies,” or eye-openers, that took place in Washington, DC—scary ones.
Epiphany #1: Democracy in the United States is much more fragile than I ever imagined. This insurrection could have turned into a coup. Many Congress members and Capitol police easily could have been murdered by the mobs. We know that militias and white supremacist groups have proliferated during the past four years, and they were there and armed. Our leaders can never be allowed to pass this off as “a tourist group.”
Epiphany #2: The fragility of white people is another revelation. With the immigration of Hispanics, Middle Easterners, Asians, and Black people from many different countries, it has become obvious how many white people feel threatened by folks who are different. For me, one of our country’s strengths is the great diversity.
Epiphany #3: Too many folks believe that the United States ought to be a fundamentalist Christian theocracy ruled by their biblical laws, narrow-mindedness, and white men. A strong democracy has to be based on the separation of church and state.
Epiphany #4: There are almost a majority of citizens in our nation who have no interest in facts. They believe the voting was rigged, Biden stole the election, Trump is still our president, COVID-19 is a hoax, vaccines don’t work, and (according to QAnon) the United States is run by pedophiles. My dilemma is, what does one do with this mass of people who have no interest in truth, facts, reality, and the necessary work for the best interest of our country?
Epiphany #5: Over half the people we elect to go to Washington, DC, seem to have no interest in doing what is best for our country but only for their own self-interest. Our democracy is crumbling right underneath their eyes, and they couldn’t care less.
Epiphany #6: I am reading the book After Auschwitz by Richard L. Rubenstein (John Hopkins, 1992). One epiphany I’ve had while reading this book is the great similarities between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump. This is nightmare material.
I hope that the Feast Day of the Epiphany will overpower—with lots of agape—all these recent epiphanies.
I would love your thoughts!
Peace Love Joy Hope
Photo courtesy of Europeana (CC0)