The Christmas thoughts I posted in both '07 and '08 are as much Epiphany thoughts as they are Christmas thoughts, reflecting on the fact that Christ brings together as equals before Him the poorest of shepherds and the richest astrologers, then asserted His own royal power by disobeying a corrupt earthly king and fleeing to Egypt. (Oddly enough, we observed the Fest of the Holy Innocents on Dec. 28 even though it occured after today's Epiphany - figure that one out.)
Another fact of Epiphany, one that I learned of just this year from my mom, further proves Christ's power as our true king, a king who calls us to stand up to the oppression and arrogance of earthly rulers. It turns out that frakincense and myrrh weren't just embalming fluids forshadowing Christ's death. Gold was a symbol of royalty, sitting atop a king's head; frankincense was used in the temple, where only the High Priest could go; and myrrh annointed the foreheads of prophets, blessing their words. Some believed the Messiah would be a king, others a prophet, and others a priest; the gifts of the wise men declared that in Jesus of Nazareth, they had found all three.
The Magi had surely read Moses' promise of the coming Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), as well as David's promise of the coming Priest (Psalm 110:4), and Daniel's promise of the coming King (Daniel 9:24-27), and when they saw Him, they fell down and worshipped Him, presenting Him with the three most fitting gifts of worship which the world contained.
One thing that I don’t like about Epiphany is our penchant for embellishment. Just like at Christmas, we feel compelled to fill in the details. Matthew does not say that the Magi were kings, he does not give their names, and he does not tell us how many their were – and yet, tradition dictates that they were three kings from if not the Orient than three different continents, named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. I think when we turn the simple story into a spectacular story and read things into Scripture that are not there, we take away the true power of the tale. If we needed more details, Matthew would have given us more details. What we need is the bread of life, and in the brevity of the Christmas and Epiphany stories, that is what we find.
If it weren't for all the beautiful Christmas music, Epiphany’s power could fast turn it into my favorite holy day. Here then is a medley of one song that is Epiphany’s and one that sounds like Epiphany’s:
Alleluia, alleluia indeed.