Epiphany: An experience of sudden and striking realization; a new and profound understanding that takes an individual to a deeper understanding of a situation. An “a-ha moment” of the highest order. But, more importantly, to a Christian, Epiphany is the season in which we embrace the newly born child who came to Earth as our Savior. He was, and remains, a gift.
Teaching my girls about Epiphany led me to a personal epiphany. This time, between the joy of Christmastide and the personal reflection of Lent, has so often gotten lost in the waiting for a time of celebration. What my family missed is the fullness of knowing why Jesus came.
Ask any child who has been raised in church “why did Jesus come to Earth?” and the answer will undoubtedly be “to die for us and forgive our sin”. This is true, but only partially. The magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is not lost on me. On the contrary, each year his death and resurrection is revealed to me in new and fresh ways, increasing my understanding and my love for Him. What I missed in the scope of that amazing and beautiful picture of surrender to God’s will is that Jesus’ first purpose in coming to Earth wrapped in flesh was so that we could be grafted onto the family tree of God, that we would be made fully aware of our status as fully loved and treasured children of the One True King.
When the Magi made the great journey to see the Christ child, it was not because they had been awaiting the arrival of the Jewish Messiah. The Magi were not of Jewish descent. And yet, God revealed the grandeur of this simple Bethlehem birth to them. And so they came. They learned who this child was because they stepped out and took the first step of a very long journey. And God welcomed them. He lit their way with a bright and beautiful beacon that said “this is my son…and he is here for you.”
With God there is no picking and choosing. No one is left sitting on the sidelines waiting for the call to join a team that never comes. No one is left trying to figure out where they fit in or trying to act as though they don’t mind being picked last again. He accepts all races, all colors with no regard to age, socio-economic or (quite important to my family) developmental boundaries. He loves us and accepts us because He made us. We are, literally, His. And all we have to do is accept the gift.
And so, in this beautiful season, I have had a sudden and striking realization. My Lord is the ultimate inclusionist (is that a real word? It is for me!) He will seek us across oceans and boundaries of our own making. He will pursue us to the absolute depths to bring us home. He knows the heart of those who express their love and pain to Him with unending words. But He also knows the hearts of those whose words are hindered and for whom pain can only be expressed in cries and for whom praise can only spill out in dances of sheer joy. He knows who the words and the songs are for. They are for Him. Because…we are His. All of us. Children of the One True King. The recipients of the first Christmas gift.