I like to think of the Church Year as a great drama. Act I, Advent, prepares us for Act II, Christmas, the incarnation of our Lord. But we've hardly had time to marvel at the majestic angels heralding the birth of the holy babe in the manger before the curtain is rising on Act III, Epiphany. Suddenly the babe is a toddler, being visited by the Magi. Their gifts reveal that he is a King (gold), that he is to be worshiped (frankincense), and that he was born to die (myrrh). In the very next scene he is a grown man, walking down into the Jordan to be baptised by his cousin, John, attending a wedding and turning water into wine, and expounding on the Scriptures in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth.
Act III itself is now coming to a close. On Sunday, February 10, the last scene of the act will be performed. It is a mystical and mysterious scene, showing us a totally unexplainable, totally other-worldly event we call the Transfiguration of our Lord. We again hear the voice of God speaking almost precisely the same words spoken in the first scene of the Epiphany Season at Jesus' baptism: "This is my son, my beloved; listen to him." Thus, with both the event and those words, the presentation of Christ to the world is brought full circle, tying the entire manifestation into a wholeness.
Manifestation is what Epiphany is all about - that's essentially what the word means - to make light manifest. So Epiphany is the season in which the Light that came into the world at Christmas is presented to the world as Jesus begins his ministry. The season of Epiphany ends gloriously, and appropriately, with the celebration of the Transfiguration, for it is a high point of revelation about God.
During the Epiphany season, Jesus is presented to us as the hope of all the world, Jew and gentile by the appearing of the star to the Magi. He is revealed as the servant-son by the majestic voice of God at his baptism. We understand that he is the bringer of a new way to approach God when he changes the water of the purification rites into the new wine of the Kingdom at the wedding at Cana. At his first sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth he declares himself to be the long-awaited Messiah. His death is prefigured in the negative reaction of the congregation of the Nazareth synagogue, giving us a glimpse of his final rejection at Calvary. And finally, at the Transfiguration, we kneel in awe with the disciples as he reflects the glory of God. The Transfiguration is the final authentication of Jesus as God living among people. It is the overpowering Light of God in which we may walk for the rest of our lives.
The curtain rises on Act IV. Now it is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Now we begin the long walk to Calvary where we will stand witness to our Lord's suffering and death. But as we all know, the drama doesn't end there. Come with us on this amazing journey!