"Little Christmas" to some.
Christmas in the Orthodox Tradition.
The Twelfth Day of Christmas to others.
Epiphany is an insight, something that has suddenly become apparent. Reading and reflecting on the day, one realizes that the historic events of the day really are quite simple, and a lesson so many of us need to learn, again, and again.
Epiphany marks when the Magi, the Three Wise men, rode into Bethlehem to visit the Christ child. The were wise indeed, learned men of science, and philosophy, and politics. They came from the East, Persia, in what is now Iran and Iraq.
The Magi followed a star, a new star in the sky, under which they found the Christ Child. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But what they really brought was recognition. Recalling our lessons from Sunday School, the Christ Child was already visited by shepherds, but shepherds don't have much authority. Their knowledge is tending to sheep and not much more. But here were Wise Men, perhaps some of the most learned people around, who traveled a great distance, to see the new born King.
The Church regonizes Epiphany as the manifestation of the Christ to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. Recognition. Someone of authority recognizing something as worthy of beholding.
How many times in our lives do we have a chance to have an epiphany moment, a chance to recognize something as worthy? There are so many simple times in each day that we can change the world, or at least someone's world for one brief moment, by the simple act of recognizing them or their work. Praising a child for a simple line drawing, complimenting someone's suit, even recognizing someone's existence by waiting a moment as we hold the door for them.
These simple acts, though not as significant as the visit of the Magi, can change the world.