Today is Epiphany and it was one of Mr. Bill’s favorite days of the year! If you’re not sure what Epiphany is give me a minute and I’ll explain. But first Mr. Bill was a great friend and my personal mentor. He walked with me through some pretty rough stuff and always pushed me to be stronger in my faith. Unfortunately for me he was called to heaven a couple of years ago. It’s unfortunate for me because there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of the impact this man had on my preaching and teaching. But it’s so fortunate for him because he is where he longed to be! He’s living the Epiphany life!
So what is Epiphany anyway? And why is it so ridiculously important that Mr. Bill would postpone his family Christmas celebration until Epiphany every year?
Here’s the long and short of Epiphany. It’s the day we celebrate the Magi (aka wisemen) coming to see the child Jesus. There are some myths about the visit that I confront in the message below, but seriously this is some crazy powerful stuff! I mean the Magi came from a place called Persia. And Persia is the same place that Daniel (yes the one in the lion’s den) was elevated by the king to be the “Magi Trainer” of sorts. So picture this:
Daniel, a devout follower of God, is taken captive by the king. Then staying true to God, he is elevated to a place of crazy importance. But all the while he stays faithful to the God who’s been with him the whole time. So he keeps the teachings about the coming Messiah on the forefront of his mind and tells these to the would be Magi. They then pass this on to their apprentice Magi who pass it on and so forth.
Fast forward to sometime after Jesus is born. The Magi see a star (part of the teaching about this coming king/messiah guy found in Numbers 24). They recognize that it’s not like any other star, so they drop everything and head out to get the 411 on the star. Now here we are at Epiphany. And this is why it was so important to Mr. Bill!
These Magi are not part of the Jewish class. They’re not Israelites. By all intents and purposes they’re outsiders at best. Yet they’re the ones who are among the first to come see Jesus after he’s born? Whoa! That’s crazy! Not even the religious elite of Jesus’ day came to see him. Just the pagan, star-gazing wise guys from a foreign nation. But it gets even better! Remember they came with gifts? You know the gold and frankincense and myrrh right? Well each of these have a special meaning too which you’ll find in that same podcast message below, but before they gave their gifts the stopped and worshipped. That’s it! That’s why it was so important to Mr. Bill.
Worship was the key to Mr. Bill’s life and will remain part of the legacy of faith he left in his family but also in me. Before the Magi put their gifts before Jesus, they bowed and worshipped him. Before the gifts were given they worshipped. This is why Mr. Bill waited for Epiphany. He was a wise man! He waited for gifts until after he had time to worship Jesus. Christmas was about worship! Epiphany is about the gifts!
Take time to worship. Worship well! Worship strong! Worship today and tomorrow and then when you’ve integrated worship into all that you do – then grab that gift and give it to God. We have to get this right. Jesus cares more about our worship than our offerings. Yep you heard it. Jesus wants your worship before he gets your offering. So worship then give, and when you do your giving will be a part of your worship!
And that’s why Epiphany was so important to Mr. Bill, because he understood worship in a way many of us only hope to understand it.