Posted by: smstrouse | January 6, 2011

Why Epiphany Isn’t Ordinary Time

Anyone who knows me knows that Epiphany is my favorite holy day and my favorite season of the church year.  Why?  Someone asked me that the other day and I had to stop and think about it.

1.  It’s Not Christmas.  I say give Christmas to the shopping centers and party suppliers and winter wonderland creators. Make it a secular holiday that everyone can enjoy. WalMart can play Jingle Bells, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and all the other non-religious songs.  We’ll keep Epiphany as our holy day. And we get a whole season, not just 12 days, to explore the wonder of the Word made flesh.  The Advent Conspiracy ( has made Advent countercultural.  Epiphany can be the same.

2. It is about Wonder.  As a someone who sometimes thinks too much, I love the story of the Magi.  It’s so magi-cal.  Especially the star!  Such a wonderful metaphor of the faith journey.  I don’t have to think about it or agree to a doctrine or creed; the star of the cosmos is my guide to the star in my heart. As I’ve been looking at preaching resources for this Sunday, I’ve been struck by the abundance of poetry and story.  This truly is a season of inspiration and creativity!

3.  It’s an interfaith, intercultural event.  The Magi were probably Zoroastrians from Persia (Iran).  The title of my doctoral thesis was “Passing Over and Coming Back: What does it mean to be a Christian in an interfaith world?” The title comes from John Dunne:
What seems to be occurring is a phenomenon we might call ‘passing over,’ passing from one culture to another, from one way of life to another, from one religion to another.

Passing over is a shifting of standpoint, a going over to the standpoint of another culture, another way of life, another religion. It is followed by an equal and opposite process we might call ‘coming back,’ coming back with new insight to one’s own culture, one’s own way of life, one’s own religion.

Passing over and coming back, it seems, is the spiritual adventure of our time.

The Magi are our role models for this spiritual adventure!

4.  It’s about Wisdom.  In The Star in My Heart, Joyce Rupp has written about the journey to Sophia, Inner Wisdom.  I love this!  I can be one of the Wise Women following the star to the manger.  This quest for Wisdom, Sophia, Christ is, for me, the journey both within (to my heart) and without (into the world).

So – stars, dreams, mysterious star-gazers bearing exotic gifts: what’s not to love?! Of course there are other aspects to the story: the political plotting of King Herod, the theological meaning of the gifts, etc.  But I’ll think about that another day.

Today I celebrate Epiphany as the season of revelation and light. The Christmas story has been told; now we ask, “So what?” or “What now?”  How is the birth of Christ into our world and our hearts revealed?  How are we revealing it?

This is what Epiphany is about. And it’s no ordinary time.  In fact it is quite extraordinary.  How can following a star be anything but?



  1. Wow! This is the first time I’ve tuned into your blog – terrific, inspiring, sensitive — as well as the blogs that took us through Advent and Christmas! I’ll make this a regular stop on my own journey.


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