Today is the feast of the Epiphany. The three wisemen, who have slowly been making their way over shelves, couches, and sofa tables, have finally arrived at the nativity set. The 12 Days of Christmas are officially over. The tree can head to the curb. The poinsettias can curl up. The Elf on the Shelf can disappear to the basement. (See the Carey family live Elf on the Shelf above.)
It’s a time to look back over our Advent preparation and Christmas celebrations. A time to reflect on the year past and look ahead to the new year. With all that pondering and reflecting, I couldn’t help but have a few epiphanies of my own.
What exactly is an epiphany? Here are a few definitions I found:
- A revealing scene or moment.
- An illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.
- An unusual sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.
- An appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being.
I have had a few of these holy “AHA” moments as I reflect on my journey to the nativity this Christmas season.
I found peace. Real peace. I made the illuminating discovery that if I can bypass resentment, anger, jealousy, disappointment, and feelings of unfairness and just love, I can find real, deep and lasting peace.
In her Advent writings, author Kate Bowler says “The peace of Christ is very different from any worldly peace. It is not something we can create or obtain by mastering our own lives. The peace of Christ comes from an other worldly love and grace – a love that sends God’s son to earth as a vulnerable baby to show the world what love feels like.”
I had a realization of the connection between loving and peace.
I found joy. Simple, sneaky joy crept into my awareness like never before. It revealed itself quietly and powerfully in the very easy, normal moments of my Advent and Christmas.
Simple delights seemed to pop up everywhere. Or are they always there waiting for us to put ourselves in their path? Without forcing it or “choosing” it, joy ambushed me over and over again.
I had a realization of the true gift of joy God has waiting for us.
These epiphanies were a part of my journey to the nativity this year. And as I prepare to take down the decorations and resume life as usual, I hope to return as the three wisemen did, by a different way.
It is said in Matthew 2:12, But God warned the wise men in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they went home to their own country by a different way.
After their encounter with the Christ child, they were open to God’s presence in their lives, they listened, they obeyed. They brought their gifts and left with God’s gifts to them of peace, joy, and love. They left different.
Let’s be different,