Every Christmas we hear many Christmas Carols, among them being the “TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS”. In addition we hear something about Epiphany, though not much is made of it among most churches. Epiphany is celebrated primarily by the Greek Orthodox Church. Sometimes a local church will say a few words about this day. The day of Epiphany is indicated on most calendars.

     I am not certain about any connection between the song “TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS” and Epiphany. But it is interesting that Epiphany is 12 days after Christmas, which always puts it on January 6. Epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the Wise Men (Magi) to visit the Christ child. It was through the Magi that Christ first revealed Himself to the gentiles.

     Sometimes Nativity Scenes include the Wise Men beside the shepherds at the birth of Christ. This is a misnomer, as scripture says the star led them to the house where they saw the Child with His mother Mary. Matthew 2:11. By now Jesus would have been about a 2-year old boy.

     When the kings from the east followed Christ’s star so they could worship Him they talked, first, to Herod. Consequently Herod became disturbed that he was about to be dethroned and had all baby boys up to 2-years old killed in an effort to kill Jesus. The shepherds worshipped Jesus as a baby in a manger, or a trough for feeding live-stock. The kings were led by the star to the house where Joseph, Mary and the 2-year old Jesus were living. How accurate the tradition is that the Wise Men arrived 12 days after His second birthday, I do not know. However, this is the reason for Epiphany on January 6, as THE CHRISTMAS OF THE GENTILES.

     Everything about Christmas has a distinctly Jewish touch. Consider the parents of Jesus – Bethlehem, shepherds, circumcision, the temple scene — all combine to create a real Jewish story. But, we must remember, this Bethlehem Baby was to be the Savior of all men, of all lands, for all time. Hence the story of the shepherds is followed by the story of the Star and the Wise Men – Epiphany.
     Kings in a far away land — not of the Hebrews — not inhabitants of Palestine — see His star in their land. By divine operation of the Holy Spirit they come to an active faith in the Bethlehem Baby. Bethlehem’s new Baby was their Redeemer, just as He was of Mary and Joseph and Simeon and Anna. This is why the poet exclaims,

                                         Lift up thine eyes in wonder,
                                         See heathen nations yonder.
                                         They come from far to Thee!

     Let us, above all else, thank God for this revelation, when Christ was born on that first Christmas. Most of our ancestors were heathens roving the plains of Europe. That we are Christians today, or have the opportunity to so become, we owe to the fact that Christ is the Savior of the Gentiles as well as the Jews. In a very real sense, then, January 6 is the Christmas of us gentile Christians. We are among those who were once “far off”, (Acts 2:39; Eph. 2:17) but have been brought into the safety of the fold of the Savior’s all-embracing, matchless mercy. We, and all Christians, must never cease to praise Him for having called us out of darkness and into the wonders of His marvelous light.               

       Just a Thought Across The Garden Gate by Parson Don. 




Updated Sept 1, 2011
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