There is a psychological/spiritual practice in our day known as “manifestation.” It is a popular topic on Tik-Tok and is a reworking of 19th century “New Thought” philosophy. The basic idea is to focus your thoughts on what you desire and take actions that align with those thoughts. As you focus on what you want, you “manifest” it in your life.
This idea is, of course, a self-help concept. It certainly may have some value, but for the Christian, our concept of manifestation is much different. It comes in the form of God’s “manifestation” in the person of Jesus Christ. As I said last Sunday, the Word became flesh and “pitched” his tent in the midst of our lives.
Epiphany, January 6, is the preeminent liturgical celebration of this manifestation (the meaning of the word epiphany). In the West, Epiphany has long been associated with the coming of the Wise Men to visit Jesus in Bethlehem. However, the older celebration focused on the baptism of Jesus and his first miracle at Cana.
All three events are epiphanies, revelations of Christ to the world:
The coming of the Wise Men is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (including us).
In Baptism, the Spirit descends on Jesus and a voice declares that Jesus is God’s Son.
At Cana, Jesus turns water into wine, demonstrating his transformative power.
This Sunday, the first Sunday after Epiphany will primarily focus on the Baptism of Christ but will include allusions to the broader Epiphany messages of the Magi and Cana. We will renew our baptismal covenant at the start of this new year and pray that Christ will be manifested in our lives, in our church, and in our world. May Christ be manifested through us to a world that needs to know God’s love.