The solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord comes to us from the East. Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation,” “showing forth,” or “advent.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in 361 AD, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the Magi, the baptism of the Lord in the Jordan River, and Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. The significance behind the visit of the Magi is the revelation of Christ as “Lord and King.” The Wise Men were the first Gentiles to publicly recognize the divinity of Jesus, honoring him as King, Prophet, and Priest by way of their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The traditional date of the feast, January 6, marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas and is, therefore, the official end of the Christmas Season.
The liturgy for the feast may include a solemn blessing or prayer over the people. It may be used in place of the simple blessing after Communion. The deacon or priest invites the Assembly to bow their heads and pray for God’s blessing. He then extends his hands over the people while he says or sings:
God has called you out of darkness,
into his wonderful light.
May you experience his kindness and blessings,
and be strong in faith, in hope, and in love. (Amen)
Because you are followers of Christ,
who appeared on this day as a light shining in darkness,
may he make you a light to all your sisters and brothers. (Amen)
The wise men followed the star,
And found Christ who is light from light.
May you too find the Lord
when your pilgrimage is ended. (Amen)
May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, and +the Holy Spirit. (Amen)
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