Epiphany Thoughts

January 21, 2015

I set out to say something meaningful about Epiphany. Ironically, despite thought and prayer, I haven’t had any sudden insight—I’ve experienced no light-bulb of inspiration—in short, I’ve had no epiphany on the subject.

But maybe that’s because I’ve always thought of epiphanies as sudden events. In reality, I’m more likely to gain understanding through a long, slow process—which may be punctuated by flashes of insight—but which is ultimately an extended journey and not a sudden arrival.

In the story of the first Epiphany, we have twelve short verses that picture the Magi arriving in Jerusalem, making their way to Jesus, giving their gifts, and setting off for home. If we had the backstory and the postscript, the tale might be considerably longer and more complicated: Seeing the star, debating its meaning, planning and executing a thousand-mile trip over several years, encountering danger and political intrigue along the way. And then finding the king they were looking for—but only as a child—potential, but not final fulfillment. And even after finding what they came for, there was the long journey home, fleeing for their lives, with only their memories to sustain them.

My journey is the same. There are days of travel with more questions than answers. There are moments of wondering if I have read the signs of my calling correctly. And it often feels like there are miles of trudging forward without reaching an inspirational destination. But throughout it all, there is the desire that drove the Magi: the deep hunger to give my best gifts to an eternal reality. And the heart of the pilgrimage is the same: to arrive in the presence of the Christ, with a glimpse of an even greater fulfillment to come.     

Tom Long