Epiphany əˈpifənē/: a sudden and great revelation, insight or realisation.
On Sunday, many of us celebrated Epiphany, remembering the revelation of God to a small group of learned men: astrologers or interpreters of signs, somewhere in ‘the East’.
Whatever those men it discovered in the skies so intrigued them, that it led them to make a long and probably arduous journey across difficult country. A journey that culminated in the home of a very ordinary family – worshipping at the cradle of a uniquely extraordinary infant. I wonder if they really had any idea of who they had found?
Interestingly, it’s possible that they followed a similar route to Abraham, who also travelled from the East in search of the answer to a promise God had revealed to him. Abraham had found the promised land, but the magi found God himself.
These stories of a revelation so captivating that it draws the one who sees it into a passionate search reminds me of one of my favourite Bible stories:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Matthew 13: 45-46 NKJV
The merchant had his own moment of sudden and great realisation: the knowledge that there was a pearl so beautiful that every other that he had ever seen paled in comparison. And it led him into an uncompromising pursuit, giving up everything he had previously valued in order too have it that one pearl.
In all these cases that what fuelled and fired the pursuit was a revelation that there was something of inestimable value to be found or gained. A sudden understanding that it is was worth searching, worth travelling out of your way, worth paying the fare, worth persevering, worth letting go of everything else to find it.
Epiphany: a lightbulb moment – a hearing from God moment – a moment when the world snapped into different perspective, motivating merchant, patriarch and magi to leave all that was familiar behind and set off in search of something wonderful.
I wonder how many people you know who could do with a moment like that?
It’s Epiphany month – a great time to ask God for ‘sudden and great realisation and revelation’ in the lives of people you love, in the lives of your work colleagues and friends and even in the lives of people you don’t really know.
It’s a time to ask for God to reveal himself and to draw people into a journey towards the promise he has for them. It’s a time to ask him to dangle the pearl of great price that is the kingdom of heaven in front of their noses so that a unquenchable yearning for more breaks open in their hearts. That they become so captivated that nothing else will do.
And I wonder if, while we’re there, we should ask that he does that for us too.