Have you ever had an “aha” moment?  You know, one of those moments when the lightbulb comes on over your head, and you suddenly seem to see something very clearly?  Maybe the solution to a problem suddenly became apparent to you.  Maybe you were hit upside the head with the depth and value of a particular relationship in your life.  Maybe you suddenly understood a verse of the Bible that you know you’d read a hundred times before.  If you’re like me, you find these moments of epiphany to be delightful.  Joyful.  Soul-filling.

I’ve started reading a book called Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross.  In it, Bobby, the director of graduate and faculty ministries with InterVarsity, gives devotionals and teaching for how to use the calendar of the Christian year to grow in our love for, understanding of, and delight in God.

Today, January 6, is the twelfth day of Christmas.  It is also the Feast of Epiphany.

What is the Feast of Epiphany, you ask?  Well, it’s the time when the Church at large celebrates some pretty cool things about Jesus – all of them pointing to the fact that he is the Light of the world.  As such, he brings epiphanies: revealing treasures that were hidden in darkness with the light of his glory.

On this particular day, the Church celebrates the Magi (probably astrologers from Persia, Babylon, or possibly Arabia) coming in search of the King that they read about in the stars.  (“The heavens declare the glory of God,” proclaims Psalm 19.  “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel,” predicts Balaam in Numbers 24:17 – incidentally, the only place in the Old Testament where stars and kingship are linked.)

But what the Magi represent is the light of God shining into the darkness of the nations.  Through His general revelation in creation and through His specific revelation in Scripture (which the Magi encounter when they arrive in Jerusalem), the coming of God in the flesh – Emmanuel, God with us, the Light of the world – is made clear to the Gentiles.

Light shines in the darkness.

Also on this particular day, the Church at large celebrates Jesus’ baptism.  Suddenly, who Jesus is becomes crystal clear as “heaven was opened, and [John the Baptist] saw the Spirit descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16-17).

Light shines in the darkness.

But the Feast of Epiphany actually kicks off a whole season of Epiphany in the Church.  This season of Epiphany, of revelation, of Light shining in darkness goes for several weeks, right up until Lent.  During it, the Church focuses on Jesus’ ministry as he proclaims the Kingdom of God, heals the sick, drives out evil spirits, raises the dead, and generally brings light into the darkness of this fallen world.  And not just light, but life.  The Apostle John says so poignantly: “In him was life, and this life was the light of the world.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!

This season of Epiphany culminates with the celebration of Jesus’ transfiguration, that glorious day when Peter, James, and John got to see Jesus in a whole new light.  “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2).  And while Peter was stammering a verbal response to this surprising display of glory, “a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!’” (v. 5).

Light shines in the darkness.

So.  Today is the Feast of Epiphany.  The day we celebrate the “aha!” “Eureka!” “Now I get it!” moments.  The day we celebrate how the Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ illuminates our darkness.  The day we internationally rejoice over the fact that God shines His light into the darkness of our souls and brings love and life as we share in the Father’s delight in His Son, whom He loves, with whom He is well pleased.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear [darkness], but you received the Spirit of adoption [light shining into the darkness of our orphaned and abandoned state apart from Jesus].  And by him we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’  The Spirit himself testifies that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8, of course!)  Delightful!